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Botswana Here I Come

Six months ago I could barely tell you where Botswana was on a map, and now I am about to spend the next six months living in the Kalahari Desert, with heat I can not yet imagine, while studying at the University of Botswana. The African desert will be quite a change from my coastal California upbringing and the snowy winters I get while at school, the University of Denver.

Each time I answer the question, “Where will you be studying abroad?” I get a wide range of reactions: a blank stare from someone who has not a clue where Botswana is or a loud obnoxious gasp followed by the assumption that I will be tracking big game or “hanging out with Simba” from the Lion King (not opposed!. When deciding where I wanted to study abroad I knew I wanted an experience completely unlike anything I had ever had done before but also one that allowed me to connect and build relationships with local students. I hope to come back feeling a real connection with Botswana and having a new kind of confidence in myself that can only be gained by traveling and living for an extended amount of time in a completely foreign region where I don’t know anyone in the country, let alone on the entire continent!

Some of the hardest challenges I expect to face are the less luxurious amenities and cultural foods. Normally I am not too picky of an eater but some of the pictures of the food I have seen did not resemble the meals I normally consume, they look a bit more like things I find on the ground after it rains. I am still not sure yet if I am excited, nervous, anxious, or antsy, probably a crazy mixture of all three! The most exhilarating part is the not knowing what to expect. I have never been to sub-Saharan Africa before and don’t have any clue what kind of expectations to have. Will everyone have crazy patterned dresses, baskets on heads, large facial piercings or dance around a fire every night? My Internet research and YouTube searches will only get me so far!

Above all I just can’t wait for July 18 to get here when I officially leave on one of the biggest and most notable experiences of my life so far. I don’t know what adventures and experiences await me in Africa, but I do know that this experience is one that will broaden my education and challenge my current opinions while providing unique opportunities I couldn’t get elsewhere. Botswana here I come!!

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