06 June 2011

Monday Spotlight: Stellenbosch (Part II)

Some of you may remember that a couple months back I decided to start doing Monday Spotlights every week as a way to share some of my favorite photos and places in South Africa with all of you.  Well, I sorta let that idea slide after that one post (I'm such a slacker!) due to being so busy with work and class, and also because I wasn't really sure how much you all were interested in the idea.  But... in the poll that I had up a couple weeks ago, "Posts on South Africa" got the most votes for what you guys wanted to see more of on the blog so I'm happy to report that I'm bringing Monday Spotlights back... and hopefully for good this time :)

In my first Monday Spotlight I shared about my experience in Stellenbosch (pronounced Stellenbosh) since it's where I spent my first year and a half in South Africa, where I met Jurgen and also has one of the most rockin student vibes I've ever experienced.  Still, when I was looking through some old photos the other day, I realized I left an essential part of what makes Stellensboch Stellenbosch out of the picture in that post... and that is Jool (Maties alum out there, back me up on this one!).

Jool basically signals the hugest beginning of the year campus rush anyone could ever imagine.  This is because a very large portion of the students stay in on-campus residences (much more so than in the states) at Stellenbosch University and in many ways these operate in a similar fashion to sororities and fraternities.  As part of "rush" all 1st years are required to partake in crazy activities around campus and alumni come in the tens of thousands each year to watch this take place.  To give you an example, one of the "competitions" is for each residence to decorate their own trolly (aka shopping cart), put someone in it and then race it down the street at brake-neck speed through an obstacle course... most amusing thing to watch ever!

As sort of a grand finale to the week, the 1st years take part in Vensters (meaning "windows" in Afrikaans - no idea why) when each residence is expected to put on an elaborate 10 minute themed show which is then judged against all the other residences' shows.  They make their own stages, themes, costumes, backgrounds, etc and then are expected to perform them every 10 minutes from 7pm up until midnight on the last night.  All non-first years can then walk around campus, watch the different performances and just take in the sheer craziness of it all.  But maybe I should stop blabbing about it and rather let the pictures do the talking :)

me, my roomie and our neighbor walking to vensters in 2008!

One of the stages - they take elaborate to a whole new level!

One of the other stages on campus

One of the many food and drink floats

Talk about school spirit!

Jool happens around the first week of February every year (side note - in South Africa, the academic year begins in the beginning of Feb, which also happens to be during the peak of summer in the southern hemisphere), so if you're planning on visiting Stellenbosch that is a great time to come.  Also, if anyone is interested in studying abroad at Stellenbosch, they offer a host of transferable international courses and also a wonderful service learning program.  I went through AIFS  when I studied abroad and loved it, but CIEE also has a great program.

Feel free to email me if you have any other questions - I'd love to help convince you to visit!


  1. Looks like fun!

    I just stumbled upon your blog and love it!

    - S from Following the Walkers

  2. Love the new look here Jenna!

  3. The idea of Vensters started in the early days of Stellenbosch. The ladies hostels would put up a show/play for the guys hostels through their windows or 'Vensters'. And that how it started, as far as I know.

    Its like Ser at the Puk, it started with boys serenading girls at their hostels, and now its a massive competition.

  4. Jen, please excuse me posting as Anonymous but Blogger stupidly won't allow me to log in to post a comment - very frustrating :(

    You have just taken me on the biggest trip down memory lane!! I MISS Stellies and Jool is the best time ever! I'm going home this weekend and I think I'm going to try and dig up some of my Jool pictures and re-live the memories :)



  5. Ohh - it seems I didn't land up posting as anonymous!! YAY :)



Thanks for the love!