Posts tagged ‘africa’
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! Read more
I can honestly say that I haven’t anticipated anything in the past as enthusiastically as I’m anticipating studying in Botswana, Africa next semester at the University of Botswana with Interstudy. At this point I can’t be completely sure what to expect, other than the unexpected. It is this aspect of next semester that I hope will change my life and bring a new perspective.
I hope that by studying in Botswana I can open my eyes and my mind to a new culture in such a way that it can broaden my perspective and the way I view the world. Living in the United States is great, but the media and other social constructs are largely responsible for the way I think about people and my environment. I am hoping that all of that will change after I assimilate into a new culture and I can see my life and values from a new lens.
I had thought about what leaving South Africa was going to be like early on in my trip. I figured I would leave the Rainbow Nation behind along with my email address to the couple of friends I had made on my journey. I figured I would return with some impressive new photos, a nice tan, maybe a wooden giraffe souvenir. However, as I sit here in my Colorado home, still in awe at how I could have forgotten how cold these snowy days can be, I realize that I had sorely underestimated what returning to America would be like.
My study abroad experience has been the most amazing experience of my life. I cannot believe that almost 5 months has passed and I’m already back home. It seems like I just left a few weeks ago, but when I look back at everything I got to see and do I feel like it was an entire chapter of my life. It is wonderful to be home and see all my friends and family, but I miss everything about Africa. As much as I hated on the food, I miss papatas! I miss taking combis to the Station, Main mall, and S.O.S. Orphanage. I miss going on adventures to cities outside of Gabs and Countries outside of Botswana: South Africa, Mozambique, and my favorite… Zimbabwe! I miss having the chance to do crazy things I will never do again.. bungee jumping at Victoria Falls off of the highest bridge in the world, night swims in the jellyfish infested waters of the beautiful Indian ocean in Ponta de Ouro, and climbing the -way harder than it looks- Table Mountain in Cape Town. I miss the feeling of being somewhere new and exciting and different full of different people, culture, foods, and environment. I miss the children at Tshwaragano Primary School in Old Naledi and at S.O.S. Orphanage. I miss hearing Liquideep and all the other fun house music beats at Bull and Bush, and dancing like crazy! Read more
The best part about studying abroad in Botswana, is being able to travel to some amazing nearby places. For semester break I traveled with three other international students to Ponta de Ouro, Mozambique: a county that is said to have the most beautiful beaches in all of Africa. Just getting there, was an adventure within itself as we began our trip by not being let through the South African border, therefor missing our bus we had already paid for. Instead, we ended up hitchhiking to Johannesburg, then catching our next bus to Moputo, taking a ferry to Contembe, and then being driven by a jeep for the last three hours, until we finally reached our backpackers hostel. I four-wheeled up the coast, bought food from the local market, negotiated for local crafts, and spent my days laying on the beautiful beaches and trying to avoid the blue jellyfish as I swam in the warm ocean. It was a wonderful vacation filled with relaxation, adventure, and culture. Read more
Africa has always been of interest to me – that mysterious continent halfway around the world that is impossible to categorize since each country is fantastically unique. When I took a college course about South Africa, my interest grew exponentially and I now find myself preparing to spend five whole months there as a student at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg. I’m looking forward to an experience unlike anything I’ve ever known, and I’m expecting to be blown away by all the exciting and challenging things I will come across while there. I’m hoping to come home to my small town of Ithaca, NY with a new global perspective, and be able to apply that to my everyday life. I also want to make life-long connections and friendships with people I meet, and fulfill my sense of adventure. I don’t doubt that there will be challenges, among them living in a foreign country for such a long time. However, the biggest challenge I expect to face will be in completing forty hours of student teaching in an English classroom at the high school level. It will be eye-opening certainly, and perhaps heartrending (considering I have to come armed with school supplies) but the challenge will be worth it. And I do love a challenge.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been asked, “Why Botswana?” over the last few months. Although it is difficult to explain to others my exact reason of why I want to travel to Africa as an education major, I have no doubt that I made the right decision. With that decision comes excitement and hope for adventure as well as worries, anxiety, and fear of the unknown. As I lay in bed at night I like to imagine what some of my adventures might look like during my time in Botswana. The opportunities to meet new people from different countries and experience a unique culture full of foods I have never tasted, music I have never heard, and other things that are too new to me that I cannot even begin to imagine them. I daydream about the days when I will be volunteering in the schools, and truly making a difference. The excitement about the endless amount of possibilities I will have to learn and explore overwhelms my worries (although they still exist).
I worry about little things like what clothes I am going to take, and will I bring too much stuff, or not enough? I worry about the fact that I am a picky eater that is going to be living in a new country with new food that I have never tried. I worry about the issues of safety and having to be more cautious while in Botswana than I have to be here at home. But if there were not things that were worrisome and there was not the fear of the unknown, then this adventure would lack excitement! I know I will grow as a person from the challenges that I face during my time abroad, and what a great outcome that would be.
There’s no slowing down during my UCT experience, despite the concept of Africa time. The last few weeks of school have kept me busy reading course packs, writing tutorial papers, and scrambling to see something new in every spare second that I have. Sleep really does feel optional some days; however, I’m continuing to wholeheartedly love my time here. The weather is starting to warm up, the palm trees are looking greener, and we can actually see the mountains on most days—we don’t have to squint through the fog anymore! Read more