You know how water always tasted so sweet and delicious at band camp1 cause you were so hot and sweaty and constantly thirsty? That’s kind of how water tastes here all the time, which sounds like a dodgy way to complain about it being hot, but I truly mean it in the best way. Back at Grinnell I would guzzle several Nalgenes a day, but here I feel like I am constantly refilling my water bottle and deriving so much satisfaction from drinking water that it’s just fantastic.
I’m much more settled now, but still figuring out the ropes here in Botswana. When people ask me about culture shock, I don’t feel like I can name any specific, big things that have been difficult, but there is an ongoing effort involved with small things being different that gets emotionally tiring sometimes. It’s tiring to have people stare at you like you have a horn growing out of your head when you ask for no meat with your meal. It’s tiring to plug into an Ethernet cord to get on the Internet, and then have it overheat your computer and only work half the time. It’s tiring to show up to classes with no other students or a professor because it’s the first week of classes and that’s what happens here. It’s tiring to go between four different offices in order to get your student ID card. It can all be a lot. But that’s alright. I don’t have any real, serious complaints, just a lot of little things that privileged, pampered American Hannah gets frustrated by, but then goes, “oh wait, that’s not actually a big deal. Calm down. It’s fine.” I’m learning a lot of patience here.
Water tastes great to drink here, but the past couple days it has also been pouring down from the skies. On Wednesday afternoon I was hanging out in my room trying to decide what I wanted to do for dinner, when all the sudden an enormous downpour started. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it rain so hard, but my Motswana roommate was laughing at me for being so excited because it is apparently not uncommon to have really heavy rain for short periods of time during this part of the year. I didn’t want to venture out into the storm, so I ate cereal in my room for dinner and watched some Netflix (I finally got it to work relatively consistently with my Ethernet cable, though a lot of the things available on Netflix in the states don’t show up in Botswana. RIP The Office.)
The next evening we were supposed to walk to Professor Volz’s apartment for the first meeting of our “Development in Botswana” class (the seminar portion of the independent research project), but about the time we set out from UB another downpour came. We hid out in the student center for a little while, but then decided to just go for it even though almost no one else was walking around in such heavy rain. We got a little bit lost on the way there (we had a pretty basic map to work from and not all of the streets are labeled super clearly in Gaborone), so about half an hour later, drenched to the bone, we arrived at his apartment and were very glad for a dry place to relax in the rain.
Today I thought I had figured out the rain system, and I was planning to get back to my dorm before it was going to start raining, but I ended up walking another international student to an office on campus that is a little tricky to find, so I ended up outside for just a moment too long. I only had about a 5 minute walk back to my room, but by the time I arrived I was completely soaked. Usually I am all about not using a raincoat and just enjoying feeling rain on my skin, but today I decided that I might want to start carrying my raincoat in my backpack when the weather is like this. Also, we have to carry our own toilet paper to most of the bathrooms and my wad of toilet paper was loose in the back pocket of my backpack and is now a blog of mush, so that’s fun
- Or whatever outdoor exercise in the middle of summer you had experience with