That is the theme for this week. Whenever you travel to a foreign country, you expect to be frustrated at least once during your stay, and it’s safe to stay we have all had our fill of frustration during our first few weeks in Gabs. It has been difficult for me at least to stay positive, however with a little bit of humor and some awesome meals at the local restaurants, I’ve begun to feel more comfortable over these past few days. So here is a list of some things I have learned over the past few weeks that have helped me keep things in perspective:
- BE PATIENT – Everything happens in its own time. Everything, from small stuff like ordering a phaphata (traditional biscuits) to internships and ID cards. Good thing is that you’re an international student so not having an ID is perfectly fine!
- Fashionably late is not a trend, it’s the norm – expect professors to be at least 15 minutes late, or not show up at all. But don’t worry, that means you won’t have class.
- Umbrellas are not just for rain – portable shade.
- Everyone wears jeans! – Sounds counter intuitive because it’s so hot and few places have air conditioning. But long pants protect your skin from picking up other people’s sweat and prevent sunburns or horrible shorts tans.
- Speaking of air conditioning, CIEE Office is the new hangout – hands down the coldest place on campus and great company too.
- Gaborone Sun is the place to tan – this hotel has great drinks and a pool that doesn’t require a swim cap. And I’ve heard through the grape vine their fitness center is quite nice.
- National Stadium gym – where I go to burn off some frustration. Really what’s kept me sane and as an added bonus, you can occasionally work out with the national soccer team.
- Take advantage of CIEE – they are there for you, so use them. If they booked a bus to Phakalane (where the clubs are), go to Phakalane. On your own it would be at least P100.
- Food is really cheap – 10 pula (less than $2) can go a long way.
- Speak in Setswana – not only are people more willing to help you, speaking in Setswana is also a great icebreaker. Combis (mini-buses that serve as public transport) are a great place to practice.
Above all else, we have only been here for three weeks! Pretty soon, we will be taking more trips, get more involved with classes and start internships and volunteering. So despite all of the initial frustration, I am still excited to be here because face it, we’re studying abroad in Africa. How many people can say that?