Settling in to Durban life as an IAYI/ICAD Intern

By Felicia Tugak, 2016-17 IAYI/ICAD Intern

It’s been twenty-four unbelievable days in Durban, South Africa as an intern with University of KwaZulu Natal for the International Aboriginal Youth Internship Initiative (IAYI). I left home thinking only this, “you know only what you know” until this trip I thought that growing up Inuk was enough in terms of knowledge and traditional skills but after spending a few months away from Nunavut and chatting with people from home, I realized I really don’t know enough.

I didn’t expect Durban to be so huge but what I did expect was the heat. I didn’t realize how different it would be with knowing what you’re going into until you felt it. It was like a heat wave slapped my face and woke me from this dream that became real!

So, a few days after we settled in, Tonya and I were lucky to have our supervisor take us out shopping. First thing we went out for was groceries even though she had taken us to the nicest mall we’ve seen so far. The Pavilion Mall has everything in it, designer clothes, handbags, and shoes. Just like any other malls back at home. It even has a grocery store called Checkers on ground level. We were more interested in the grocery store because we were hungrier than ever, after resting and settling in our new home for the next three months.

Our hostess is so nice. She’s cooked a few times and made sure that we ate and gave us some recommendations for shops and things to do around the city. We met her friends and got together just to like learn more about each other.  We had this braai, it is like having a barbeque.  The food is fantastic and there is a lot. So much that we don’t even need to eat the next day. We had some laughs and lots of stories to tell. They could hardly believe that we could survive our winter weathers, where as I could hardly believe that I am barely surviving their summer. I keep on saying that it is easier to stay in the cool than to stay in the heat, because once you are in a cold environment, it is easy to stay warm (just work and keep on moving while you are in cold area also to just relax your muscles) Sometimes, I miss our weather and our traditional foods but i know time will pass so fast that it’ll be in a blink of an eye we will get ready for our departure.


A few days after our arrival, we met our roommate from Germany. He has a car and he also takes us to places around the city. We went to check out the beach on a cloudy day, just to see what it’s like.  My second weekend in Durban, we made a trip out of the city to a place called Tala Game Reserve. It is a wildlife private park full of animals like Giraffe, Ostrich, Hippopotamus, Rhinocerus, Zebras, Wildebeests, Warthogs, and many Springboks. Although, we didn’t stay there long enough to experience the whole reserve. Our main reason was to go on the drive to look at the wildlife. Then we had to come back home for our usual evening dinner we planned with our hostess. I was sad that Tonya didn’t get to experience this trip with our roommate and me, so I bought her a gift. I noticed our landlord lady has a favorite animal too so I got her a gift as well. They are such awesome people to have as friends.

My favorite part of the ride finding the giraffe. It was easy to spot and I felt calm while I was around the animal. We stopped at the giraffe the longest, I think just because the tour guide felt most of us calm and just adoring the beautiful animal.  On our way driving through the all-terrain road, as we were driving downhill I sort of had butterflies tickling my spin. It reminded me of the drive up a hill in my home town. My roommate felt my anxiety and he just laughed and tried to calm me down afterwards. Just because I am not used to the insects around here, it was obvious that I was uncomfortable by having flies come near me. I try my best not to freak out because of a fly, I guess it’s a matter of time to get used to these sorts of things.


One weekend Tonya, our roommate and I made a trip to one of the biggest malls in Durban. Gateway mall was so huge! So many people and so many stores. Pavilion is still my favorite mall just because it’s cleaner and friendlier. It was hard to find some trousers for some cooler days as well as other days where it is not so sunny. I was lucky enough to find a store to find a good pair of jeans and I thought the sandals I found were a good to wear but it wasn’t until later that they didn’t fit properly.

Since our arrival here in Durban, our hostess introduced us to some new friends and we have been meeting up every Monday for a dinner special at a restaurant called, “Spur” fantastic burger restaurant and other kinds of foods like deep fried mushroom and other grade A meats perfect for steak. Our friendship circle is growing bigger and I’m starting to feel confident about staying in Durban. Plus once a week she prepares this big barbeque they call braai.

My stay here has only just started. My class mates and are beginning to get together now and spending more time to get to know each other.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close