Hi all. I rarely have internet access here in Gaborone so I am going to try and blog as often as possible, but I would suggest that in general you just assume I am healthy and having fun and enjoying my time here. Because in general that’s true.
I’m hoping I’ll eventually be able to put up pictures. It is so beautiful here. The pictures I’ve taken don’t come close to capturing all I have seen.
My time here so far has been amazing. A lot of things were unexpected: living with Batswana graduate students, cockroaches in our apartment, no toilet seat in our apartment, ridiculously slow internet on campus, professors frequently not showing up to class. But I've done a lot in the short time I've been here though: went to the Gaborone Game Reserve and was 10 ft away from an elephant, climbed Kgali Hill [which is pretty much a mountain - it took 2 hours to climb.], ate bugs, saw a goat get slaughtered and a lot more.
The languages spoken here are Setswana and English. Almost everyone speaks both, but some only speak Setswana. Everyone in CIEE is enrolled in 2 Setswana courses. Communicating with people is sometimes hard because of trying to understand people's accents. My Setswana name for 1 of the classes is Boitumelo. It means happiness. I like it because it sounds Italian with my accent.
Sometimes it's very surreal thinking that I'm actually in Africa. Sometimes an image of the map of the world pops in my head and I picture myself in Botswana waving to people back home in MO & MI. And then other times, I feel like I am still in the U.S. because Gaborone and the University of Botswana are pretty westernized for a developing country.
Some people here are very welcoming, but some are not at all and do not hide resentment for the presence of international students. That goes for both professors and students.
For instance, today in my African Oral Narratives class, I decided to answer a question the professor was presenting to the class. While I gave my response, everyone in the class was laughing and mumbling. This particular professor appreciates international students at the university. She told the class their behavior was inappropriate and disrespectful and isn’t conducive to a healthy classroom environment.
I don’t know why my response was particularly funny, maybe it was just the fact that I felt it was my place to say anything. That is why I am hesitant to talk during class. I feel like it is not my place to give input because everyone will think it is wrong no matter what and I certainly do not like answering first because then I just feel like I am taking up space. Often it is not my choice to participate or not. A few of my professors specifically point me out in class and ask what the American thinks. What’s it like in the U.S.? How does an American look at this? What would an American do? It makes me relatively uncomfortable and I’m assuming Batswana students aren’t fans of this either.
Besides African Oral Narratives and the 2 Setswana courses, I’m taking Social Structures of Southern African Societies, Rural Sociology, The Media in Botswana, and Gender Issues in African Literature.
The 11 other people in my CIEE program are all great. We’re from all over the U.S. It’s nice to be around other young people who are motivated and find an importance in international education. I am so glad I decided to go abroad and am so grateful for all the support from my friends and family. I’m sure this semester will be unforgettable.