Growing up in my pink little bubble in Small Town, SA, I was quite oblivious to the bigger and some what intimidating world out there. Although not technically a farm, we have the luxury of breathing in fresh, unpolluted air, live amidst green open fields, peaceful streets and picturesque mountains. The furthest you have to drive to go anywhere is 5 minutes, In fact, you could even safely walk to your destination. The only kind of traffic you'd have to worry about are the small herds of cows or goats, that harmoniously reside amongst the lush meadows and cozy residences. Everyone knows everyone in the hamlet, which can be advantageous, because theres always a helping hand literally around the corner. On the other hand, it can be slightly annoying with the entire population always knowing your every move.
City Slickers live under the misconception that we on the countryside, or 'rural areas' as it's been called, don't have basic amenities such as electricity & running water. This is far from the truth, as we have most of what they have, just on a much smaller & simpler scale. We may not be able to pop down to Woolworths Food to purchase organic strawberries, but better still, we can get it from our local grocer, newly picked from a nearby farm, and at half the price too. Another countryside component people ask me about is how we survive without any malls, cinemas and fancy restaurants. I suppose when you grow up without extravagant entertainment options, you make the best of what you have.
My school down the road, not only offered a solid, dual medium education, but also provided a social playground. Kids grow up playing outside without fancy gadgets and without shoes, riding their bikes across leafy streets, camping out on weekends & enjoying the innocence and beauty of childhood. Instead of shopping for designer clothes to wear to the movies, friends got together to play sports & boardgames, or watch DVD's & have slumber parties. It didn't matter what clothes you wore, what kind of mobile phone you owned or if you even had one, or what social background you came from. You were accepted and liked for who you are. It was a blissful, carefree life, the only one I had known...well, until I began the “Campus Girl” Chapter of my life.
Moving to The City had me wrapped up in an anxious knot, excited by relocation but also fearing the unknown. I had often made many weekend visits to the City of Gold, and vacationed at the Cape & KZN Coast, but actually living in a city left me feeling a little jellyfish out of water. My first week of orientation as a bemused Bachelor of Arts student was a complete culture shock. Verdant valleys & picket fences long forgotten, I had stepped into a concrete world of shadowing skyscrapers & reckless roadsters. Besides the smoggy air clogging up my lungs, the nightmarish traffic turned a 20 minute journey to university into an hour long, snail paced drive. The cool crowd on campus would only be friends with you if you 'fit in' to their savvy city lifestyles; wearing the right brands, cruising around in fancy cars and hanging out at the hottest venues, all armed with street conceit smart attitudes. I refused to be consumed by it all, afraid I would lose my sense of self & forget the unpretentious world I came from. I became disillusioned with the bright lights, fast lives and freeways. Far from what I had anticipated, I began to research the benefits of long distance learning.
Upon receiving the campus diary & lecture schedule, I tried to decipher the cryptic subject codes & allocated time slots. I longed for straightforward school days where your form teacher told where you had to be at what time and that ENG 154 was just English and not linguistics or lexicography. My spirits were drowned, rather than dampened when I found out, in order to receive the required credits, I needed to take up 26 modules. In One Year. I had back to back, overlapping, hour long classes in different, distant venues & adding to the stress of it all, poetry at university level made my entire Matric syllabus look like a preschool nursery rhyme. Returning my copy of Norton's Anthology, I took up Anthropology instead. It was then, I wondered whether if it was too late to take a gap year.
However, once my the first set of lectures began, a new wave of creative encouragement aerated my deflated aspirations. I was inspired by the compelling contents of my study material, knowledgeable lecturers, and even the vast, dusty lecture halls filled with students just as confused as I was. It was here that I met my kindred spirits, both also studying Journalism. Once the initial 'Hello's' and introductions were exchanged, we instantly clicked, connected by our love for all things Glamour, Cosmo, frills and thrills. They became my support system, my home away from home, ensuring that my 4 year stay in the city was an unforgettable one.
My metamorphosis from Small Town to City Girl became an amazing adventure, fulfilled by mall-hopping, class skipping, note copying, faithful friendship and of course, some studying in between.
I realised that living a city life doesn't change who you are, as I will always a small town girl at heart.