International Student Volunteers was thoughtful enough to send me a ‘Resource Manual’ in an email with a variety of facts and different pieces of information about South Africa. It made me realise that I probably should study up on the country and culture a bit more in order to fully experience everything.
To quote ISV “Your appreciation of where you are, what you see and experience will depend on what you know”
The Resource Manual included a map of South Africa and a few geography facts, as well as some information on the climate, geology, environment and biodiversity.
It’s amazing to know that South Africa represents 1% of the earths total land surface and holds 10% of the worlds bird, fish and plant species as well as 6% of the worlds mammals and reptile species!
In total, there are about 243 mammal species in the region and 17 are threatened, it is heartbreaking when any species is endangered, but I am happy to know that I will be making a positive difference.
The manual also included the cultural and social history of the country, which was interesting in it’s own right.
The population is at almost 50 million, which makes New Zealand and it’s population of 4 million seem so much smaller.
South Africa also has 11 languages and I am really excited to hearing them, I love language and I think it’s really fascinating to hear foreign languages, and to be honest, I am really looking forward to hearing someone speak Xhosa, which has click consonants.
The land, animals, plants and people are all so diverse and this is represented really well in their food, I can’t wait to try the “rainbow cuisine” which is named so because it has a variety of multi-cultural sources and stages. But it looks great!
To the people reading this blog for travel advice, this may look like it only helps people who are travelling to South Africa, but the main point is that learning about the place you are visiting is so important. You need to know about the environment, the people, the cultures, food, religions, customs, history, Everything is helpful.
By learning the customs you can prevent yourself from insulting anyone unintentionally, you won’t be an ignorant tourist but rather someone who can appreciate what is before them, plus you get to show off and be a smart-ass in front of your friends.