North and South: The Story So Far

Submitted by Lisa Farrant on Fri, 09/16/2022 - 16:19

My roots lie in the Southern coast sands of South Africa, in a village that sees whales return each year to birth their young and to breach into the fresh breeze that whips eastwards across the bay. Customers phone ahead before visiting the local seaside restaurant, to find out what time the dolphins are expected to swim past, as though the staff have a direct line to Poseidon himself.  

I studied in town, at Nelson Mandela University, whose brutalist architecture reflects the conservative attitude of its founders during the Apartheid regime. The modern University boasts a bustling Media and Communication Department, where I studied and chose to focus my energy on critical modules – especially those with an ecological undertone. This major interest would later underwrite my Master’s and doctoral research.  

For the first three years of my career, I worked in my hometown as a lecturer and Writing Centre respondent, before moving into the shadow of Table Mountain, in Cape Town, to take up a position as Programme Manager and full-time lecturer at a private university. I was exposed to a diverse array of students, many from across Africa, with varying academic and language support needs.  

In 2021, my partner and I exchanged the vineyards of The Cape for the neat Victorian brickwork of London. I was fortunate to find work on a Pathways programme, which meant teaching students from Nigeria, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, and South Korea, all of which has prepared me well for my new position as an Academic Skills Tutor (International Link) at Arden.

So far, I have enjoyed two British summers and one winter – I will be better prepared for the next one. I live down the road from a library, which means I’m never bored. Most recently, I spent many weekends between the pages of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (recommend!) and Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy (!recommend!). I’ve also walked through nearly two pairs of trainers while taking in all the sites in London and surrounds. In the future, I look forward to continuing my education, as well as having an entire pack of scruffy, tangled, and chaotic dogs, and perhaps a donkey or two.

As with many students, my roots have been stretched across continents, but new nodes are sprouting and taking hold in the cracks of London concrete. And it helps to know that, should I ever miss home, the dolphins are simply a phone call away.

Reflective Writing