Post by Marisol Montano from the University of California, Santa Barbara
There have been many challenging aspects of my experience abroad. As the semester progresses, however, there is one thing I still have yet to get the hang of—laundry. Living on campus, there are two options for doing my laundry. I could either: 1) Use the laundromat (or launderette as it is referred to here in Botswana) or 2) Wash by hand. Having tried out the hand-washing method, I decided that I would use the laundromat for the rest of my stay. Unfortunately, using the laundromat has been a bigger challenge than I expected, but this week I believe I have finally mastered the complicated maze. Below is a how-to for the laundry based off of my experiences.
The first time visiting the laundry on campus can be a bit confusing and overwhelming. Before you embark on your laundry mission, make sure to buy laundry tokens from the Souvenir Shop located inside the Student Center. These tokens will be used in place of coins in order to operate the laundry machines.
Depending on the day and time of your visit, the laundromat might be either really crowded or only semi-occupied. Saturday is considered laundry day in Botswana; therefore, I highly recommend against doing laundry on Saturdays.
Upon arriving at the laundromat, before you can even approach the machines, you have to present your schedule printout out and school identification card to a laundromat attendant. Sometimes, if the ladies are in a good mood, they let the occasional visitor pass by them without much hassle.
After passing the security clearance, the next step to doing laundry is finding a working washing machine. If the laundromat is crowded, this might seem like a ‘mission impossible’. The best approach to finding a machine is asking fellow peers if there is a queue (or a line) for the washing machines. Every person you ask will give you a different answer so be patient as this step is important in order to getting your clothes washed in a timely manner. Sometimes, there may be two people before you trying to use the same machine. Therefore, always remember to bring a good book and some music to pass the time while you wait.
After getting your clothes washed, the next step is trying to dry them. You can choose to either: 1) Dry your clothes in a dryer and repeat the queue process like for the washing machine or 2) Bring your own pegs (clothes pins) and hang your clothes to dry outside. If you have some time to spare and a good novel on your hands, I recommend the second option.
If all this laundry business seems like a little too much, washing by hand is also always an option. This will involve a bucket (or two) and some serious determination. Hand-washing, after the laundromat maze, might seem like the better option.
My first time at the laundromat took five hours and now, I am happy to say that this week I was able to decrease my time to two hours. I am almost a laundromat expert. Finally, a couple pieces of advice for the launderette novices: 1) Do not let your clothes accumulate; you will regret it, and 2) The best times to do your laundry seem to be Sunday mornings, sometime around 9am.