U is for University. I studied at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Stellenbosch is a small town in the heart of the winelands about 35 minutes’ drive from Cape Town. The village (or dorp as it’s known in Afrikaans) has grown around and with the university over the years. It used to be a small village that became busy when the students were around and got really quiet during university holidays but it’s grown a great deal since I’ve studied there.
In the early ‘90’s when I was a student it still had a village-feel to it, or maybe it was just my perception as a young student (where your world only revolved around your immediate surroundings and goings-on). The campus is fairly concentrated and included some historical buildings. During my first three years (whilst boarding in a student residence – koshuis), I didn’t have a car and used to walk everywhere. It didn’t matter if it were lectures, shopping or socialising. There was always a constant stream of students walking to and around campus. In winter everyone was out with umbrellas. It must have been the fashion to have very colourful umbrellas at the time because I clearly remember bare trees and grey, rainy days devoid of much colour other than a vibrant sea of multi-coloured umbrellas going up the street. Reds, greens, yellows, blues, oranges, purples and many more. I used to love the colour it brought to otherwise dreary days.
My husband studied there as well but finished a few years before I started and our paths only crossed later. Today our son studies at the University of Western Australia. The cost of accommodation and living expenses in Perth forces most students to live at home while they’re studying. Luckily public transport is such that they can commute easily. Child No 2 studies music at WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) which forms part of Edith Cowan University. There are four public universities in Perth and some smaller private ones as well. With two kids at uni at the moment I often think back fondly of my own carefree student days.