Friday, September 21, 2012

South Africa - first impressions

It's now been 4 weeks since I set off from a not so impressive summer evening in Hamburg to arrive in a slightly warmer Johannesburg the next day. It's high time I capture some of the first impressions if they're to be first impressions.

But just to quickly give a status update for the people that care: I'm fine, the project I'm working on is fine, the TWers here are cool and it's exciting to see the office grow. The nature of how things are here does limit my socializing though and thus makes me feel a little isolated.

On now for my highly subjective observations:

  • South Africans are even crazier about their BBQing (or Braai-ing) than Germans. The main difference being the amount and the sheer size of the meat. 
  • Food... lots of Avocados and lots of meat in general. I'm loving it.
  • I was told that only red meat is meat and chicken counts as a vegetable
  • 100% of sampled offices (2) use fingerprint scanners instead of keys. Not sure if this could ever fly in privacy-conscious Germany, but it is convenient.
  • Oh how I miss my reliable, fast and cheap internet. 
  • Our office is really nice and next door it has proper hipster coffee. 
  • Let's not talk about beer though. Instead, stick to wine.
  • Traffic lights are called robots
  • Driving involves a change of habits owing to the security problems. Bags go in the trunk, phones stay in the pocket, windows stay up
  • In general people are excessively friendly though. The common "How are you" is actually answered and not just mirrored back. After taking a while to get used to the latter being the norm in the UK it's weird to have to unlearn that. 
  • Live seems to center around cars and malls. This is a bit annoying, as I can't stand malls
  • The exception to this being Melville, which has lots of small shops and cafes on actual streets that you can walk on. I found this nice song there.
  • Basic satellite TV (which seems fairly common) has about 10 sport channels. It doesn't seem uncommon to have those running on TVs around the office. 
  • I do not understand Cricket. 
  • Everything happens two hours earlier. I get up two hours earlier, I start work two hours earlier, I'm home two hours earlier, shops close two hours earlier, I go to bed two hours earlier. I'm still not sure if that's also a security side-effect.
  • Giraffes are awesome.