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Farewell

My finals are now finished and the paperwork done, I now have to say goodbye to Botswana.When I first came to Botswana and UB, I had my own thoughts on what I would find and experience, I thought that I would come learn about the wildlife there, hopefully see a leopard and get to learn about the culture.

But What I instead found was that other than the wildlife, was that I had the chance to experience and become part of the culture, I learned about the dances and the life people led outside the city about the cattle posts and about how close people are to their family.

China, me, and Moabe

I made friends from all around the world from other parts of my country, from parts of Africa, and from places as far as Germany and Sweden. It was a gratifying experience, one that made me expand my view of the world.

Some of the things I learned was how close they hold family to them in Botswana, it is seen in how they manage to care for their families while they are in college, how older siblings will provide money so their younger ones can go to school. It was seen in how my local friends were always their for their siblings to provide support if needed. The respect people in Botswana show for their family, parents and elders is a much humbling experience and is one that I believe could be expanded in my own country.

I have also learned more about myself here, about making new friends, excepting different ideas that do not always go with how you were taught or believe. About adapting to differences and making them part of you.

For all the advice that I can give on what to bring and my experiences here what I can say is that you will learn more from being here from seeing what it is like to live in a culture so unique and different from your own than what I could ever teach you.

 

MY friends at the Kgotla, whitney, elissa, binta, ida, and beckyChina, me, and Moabe

Go siame everyone, and fair travels ^^

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Chobe National Park, Okovango Delta, and Victoria Falls (pt 2)

So on my last part I mentioned largely Chobe National Park. The Delta trip was also interesting but largely we saw lots and lots of Elephants, seriously if you want to see elephant go to the delta, we saw old ones and young ones though not many with large tusks.

Other animals we saw were the water buffalo, hippopotamus and of course crocodiles.

So on a brighter note here are some pictures from the remains of my trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are so many more amazing pictures I could show you from this trip, but I will move on to Victoria Falls. We went to the Zambia side of this park. And the falls were amazing! Right outside the park there is also an amazing craft fair where you can buy different African crafts for really cheap, bring things to trade on this trip they were asking us for anything shoes, pens, lighters they will barter for it and they preferred American cash (mainly because it is much higher to their Kwacha)

 

Overall it was an amazing trip worth going to if you want to see the wildlife of Botswana

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Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta,and Victoria Falls Trip! (Part 1)

So During the Fall Semester you get a short break (1 week). During this time of the year the parks are still dry and so have great viewing of animals and young ones and it was during this time that we decided to take a week long trip into Chobe (mostly).  It was an amazing trip one of my favorites here, yah you can to cape town or Mozambique but you don’t know what your missing if you miss out on this trip!

 

Locations: Maun, Kasane, and Zambia

Activities: Camping every night,food provided as well as tents, game drives 2X a day (dawn and dusk), 1 Boat tour, and then a day at Victoria Falls

It was an amazing camping trip we had so much fun not only during the drives but also just hanging out afterward, listening to the elephants and hippos in the night, wondering how close the lions were and chasing off the pesky honey badgers.  During some of the drives we sang songs we all knew some of the others sang Disney songs in Swedish.

Here are some of the things we saw :

Birds: ( roughly 27 different species that I could identify with help)- Some of which were the Cattle Egret, Red Billed Cormorant, Lilac Breasted Rollers, Hooded Vulture, Ostrich, Fishing Eagle, Cory Buster, Great Eagle Owl, European Bee Eater, and the Ground Hornbill

African Darter (Snake Bird)

Mammals (26 recognized species), this included 4 of the big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Giraffe,and  Water Buffalo) as well as other rarer animals like the stable antelope, wild dog and klipspringer. We also saw plenty of impala, elephant, Zebra, Hippopotamus, Warthog, and Kudu

Fishing Eagle and Elephant ^^
Wildebeest and Impala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male Kudu

 

 

We saw a lot of Elephants on this trip, you will see signs everywhere declaring Kasane as the ‘Land of the Giants’ and they are not kidding the elephants are everywhere and there are even crossing signs for them

The Kudu, impala and wildebeest largely ignored us but we did get to watch a wild dog chase down pray that riled quiet a few in the large herd.

Part of my favorite part of this trip was the predators we saw, we saw 3 different prides of lion (2 larger ones) and 3 different leopards, one even had a kill under a tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lion pride managed to catch a young zebra and as we watched one of the mother elephants got worried about how close the lions were to her calf so she trumpeted at them! She then got in front of her calf and the others came round, the younger lions moved away while a few of them just ignored the worried elephants.

 

Will Post more Pictures and talk about the trip later, for now please enjoy these and I will talk to everyone later!

 

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La Réunion: Studying Abroad on a Tropical Island Blog # 1

I can’t believe that I have already reached the half-way point of my stay here on La Réunion, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean a good distance off the coast of Madagascar. There are many pros and cons of living on a tropical island. Pros: beaches, mountains, hiking, waterfalls, and volcanoes. Cons: the islanders have their own ways of doing things, and there is nothing you can do about it; you have to adapt.

First of all, time exists on a different plane on La Réunion. If you are given a time to be somewhere, as a general rule, you show up ten or fifteen minutes late. It’s okay; everyone does it. The islanders definitely take the French “Fifteen Minute Rule” to heart. Also, you have to abandon the notion (commonly held by many Americans) of a store or shop that is open 24/7. In fact, many places don’t open until eight, nine, or even ten in the morning. Then, they close a few hours for lunch, and then reopen for a few hours in the afternoon, and then close for the rest of the night. Also, they are not open as many hours on weekends as they are on weekdays. Buses stop running around seven or eight at night. The lesson to be learned from this is that you can’t take things for granted. Don’t expect a place to be open; don’t expect a bus to be running or be on time; because, it probably won’t be. It is important to not be too adamant about your plans. You have to be flexible, because, trust me, your plans will be changed.

As a foreign student, the single hardest thing to get used to on the island is the university. For someone who has enjoyed the structure and organization of an American university for the past three years, it has been very frustrating to deal with the disorganization that plagues Université de la Réunion. As a foreign student, you can expect to spend your first month here at the university trying to organize your class schedule. All classes don’t begin on the same week as they do in America. In fact, some classes start one, two, three, or even four weeks later than others. Also, beware that classes can change rooms and times at anytime. I found that religiously checking the department bulletin board for posted notices is the best way to keep track of changes. Don’t expect any other form of communication.

Learning French on the island is an emotional rollercoaster ride. Within a single course of a day, you will meet and talk to someone and be able to understand almost everything, and then you will meet someone else and barely be able to understand anything. Just when you believe that you are finally getting the hang of it, reality sinks in, and your confidence is shattered. The Islanders speak Reunion Creole, and when they speak French, their Creole accents and use of Creole vocabulary can be quite strong and can make things difficult to understand.

But even though being a foreign student who is learning a different language can be quite frustrating, you just have to remember that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, or more appropriately, there is always a beach on the other side of the island.

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Places to go and Things to do in Gaborone

Hey Everyone!

It is now October and as such we are nearing Botswana’s amazingly hot summers, and so in our effort to find somewhere to hang out that is in the shade I have decided to write a blog on places to go in Gaborone both during the day and night.

Quick Tip: Make sure you have sunblock here or buy an umbrella, a lot of locals use them to protect you from some of the heat and if you are a lover of swimming bring a swim cap as it is required to swim in the pool here (which is amazing).

Food:

Just like back home you will eventually get tired of the cafeteria food. Which though good and fairly cheap (15P) can get a little monotonous since it mainly consists of rice/pap/pasta, chicken/beef, and a vegetable (squash, cabbage, salad) though how they are cooked does sometimes change.

There are 3 main malls here in Gaborone (which I may have mentioned previously) of the three they all have different types of food that you are welcome to try depending on your price range

Main mall: mainly has plenty of street vendors with hotdogs and 3 fairly decent sized restaurants which are the hungry lion, chicken licken, and Nandos, all of which sell a western style of food so if your missing the states a bit, there are close, there is also a KFC in main mall if you really want something from back home.

Riverwalk: Has tons of restaurants it has Indian food (Indian embassy), brazilian, italian (Primi Piatti), and some general resturants where you can get food like burgers, stake, chicken (Apache Spur, and Linga Longa). For places to just relax it also has a amazing coffee shop (Equatorial) which offers wi-fi and fairly cheap coffee. There is also an ice cream shop and a ethiopian resturant (which is one that I enjoy other than primi). This mall also has Nandos and 2 pizza places

Of these all I would suggest going to Primi sometime the food is awesome, it has free wi-fi, a nice interior and good drinks.

If you want more of a social atmosphere though I would also recommend Linga Longa which is like a bar/restaurant and is cheaper than primi.

Game City: Is one of the larger malls and so contains a bit more, it also has Nandos, as well as 2 coffee shops and a chinese restaurant.

Outdoors:

If on the hot days you want to go out and enjoy the weather there are numerous things to do outside, by combi or taxi there is a nice garden nearby which also has a small coffee shop, there are parks and Gaborone Game reserve isn’t too far from campus (less than a 5 minute combee ride). Kgale hill is always a nice place to visit as well.

Night Activities:

If you are one to go clubbing or just want to get out and see other locals in a more relaxed setting there are 3 main clubs around Gaborone they are Bull and Bush, Zoom, and Lizard Lounge, there is also a more local one called Chihuahua (though I wouldn’t recommend it). As always in cities and especially foreign countries it is important to travel in groups if you decide to go out, Gabs is fairly safe in many standards but there are crazy people everywhere.

Bull and Bush- is one of the ones that costs to go in, it has good food during the early evening and a decent sized dance floor with a pool table in another room (if you are a girl, just know it is hard to play pool in this country the guys hog the tables). Generally it is 40P to get in and you can get there by cab, though it is one of the pricier clubs it is also one of the safer clubs

Lizard Lounge- is a much smaller club and if you are female you will almost always get in free it is two floored so if you just want to hang out you can go upstairs there is a decent sized dance floor as well with mirrors all around it, none of us have ever had in major problems at this club

Zoom- is one of the more local ones and is not recommended on the weekends (same with chihuahua) as it can get dangerous with the pick pockets, two girls have had their phones stolen here, so if you here about this club from the locals keep in mind that you need to be very careful and travel with a large group. Other than that it is a large club with two floors .

Chihuahua-  I have not been to this club (or zoom) but of the other internationals here who have they have gone once and say never again, it is in a not so great part of town so stick to the other three if that is what you enjoy doing ^^

Tip: If you do go clubbing or drinking be careful and make sure to be friends like anywhere in the world there are guys who are jerks and there are thieves so stick together and if you bring a nice phone leave it in your dorms when you go out.

Campus Events:

Throughout the year (or semester in my case) there are different activities on campus.

If you are religiously inclined they do a lot of big events through the church and every Wednesday they do discussions, religion is very important to many Batswana and so you will find many groups, clubs and activities all the time.

During the fall semester there is the Freshers Ball which is a large party held on campus generally there are 3 security teams available during this time, but in my experience I would suggest staying in during this particular event. It is large and as such many of the people off campus generally come in and security is not always tight near the dorms which in the long run is where you are going.  If you do decide to go, be in a large group don’t carry money if you don’t have to and do not have your phone on you.

During the spring semester there are inter varsity games which is you enjoy sports you can attend.

Clubs:

There are so many groups and clubs on campus some of which are:

Swimming Club (5P for the whole year and you can be a beginner with no experience meet every day but fridays)

Karate (of which I am a member 100P a month which includes 3 aerobics classes we meet every day and have competitions about every month) <—Awesome club! ^^

Aerobics Club- meets every day

Basketball, Softball, and Football teams are all here

Philosophy club and a bible study club is availble

For those who are more academically interested there are many societies such as:

Environmental Society, Economics Society, Wildlife Society –which all do different events and activities if you are curious just attend on of their introduction meetings to see what is going on

Tip: There isn’t an easy way to find clubs on campus, it took me a month to find out when the karate club met, the swim club and sports clubs will post many posters as will the academic societies for meeting times just keep an eye out around campus or ask a local (which is what I did)

Other than that look around and explore there are always different events going on and different things to do get involved make friends both local and other international students and be patient!

Side Note: Sorry for the lack of picture for this blog, one of the other things you will have to get used to is that the internet is not always fast or always working and sometimes certain things are blocked, though the wi-fi is fairly consistent near the library or off campus.

Go Siame!

(Once I am able I will be posting about my trip to Chobe, the Delta and Vic falls!)

 

 

 

 

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Beginnings

Hello Everyone!

or as I learned its actually Dumelang. As you can tell my Setswana class is going well, if you happen to meet me I can so far greet you hello, ask how your are doing tell you I am doing well and then bid you goodbye and tell you that it was nice meeting you. One of these times I will post some Setswana for you all, its good to know the basics.

Classes

Tip with classes and most of Botswana culture (you will need this skill): Patience

Bring it with you and keep it as a close and good friend, It is now the 3rd week of school and I perhaps will be able to get my student ID card tomorrow and they don’t have many of my books in, but I am feeling good this week so we shall hope for the card. On the other side though the teachers are very understanding and one said he would even let me borrow his in the mean time.

As for classes due to my major being science the teachers as always in that major are on top of things and so I have my syllabi but not all do, many courses will begin in earnest this coming week, here is a list of my classes for those interested.

  • Setswana for beginners
    • if you can take it, so far its fun and elders appreciate you attempting to understand their language
  • Entomology (study of insects)
    • …the things you learn in the class…some may scare you
  • Dynamics of a Savanna Ecosystem
    • All I can say is that I get to do a mini project on termites! 🙂
  • Environmental Education
    • get back to you on this one, we are still debating on the definition of this in class..

Total Hours: 12

Kgale Hill

Kgale hill is located near Game City one of the nearby malls, you can take two mini buses there or a cab depending on how much pula you got (P6 vs P30 one way). We were hoping to see baboons but no luck. There are some great birding sites here though and the hiking isn’t terribly hard. If you like hiking and outdoors go for it its a cheaper excursion

  One of the pics from Kgale, there are so many beautiful shots you can get here.

 

 

 

 

 

This trip proved uneventful in our grand search for baboons, but do not lose hope we plan on another trip to see them, did see birds and cows though and even a stray dog.

Go Siame! (Goodbye)

 

 

 

 

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Cultural Excursion

Hey again,

So much happened that I decided to post just about this. ISEP took us out on a cultural excursion price this year was P570 or a little under $100. It included:

  1. Visit to Bangwaketse Kgotle in Kanye
  2. Visit to Mmakgodumo Dam, Manyana Rock Paintings and the Livingstone Tree
  3. Overnight stay in Bahurusthe Cultural Lodge
  4. Game Drive at Mokolodi

Bnagwaketse Kgotle in Kanye

The Kgotle is a court and meeting place found within a village, it is here that the Kgosi (or chief of the village) will hold court, see over marriages and discuss recent events occurring in the village. Nearby there was an area for lost cows to be reclaimed and behind the Kgotle was the administrative offices. Some of the interesting things you will learn about though is the bride price, which here included 8 cows, the Kgosi here said that it was a sign of thanks to the family for raising the woman you are marrying.

Kgotle

 

 

Bnagwaketse Kgotle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some other interesting things to note as seen with the picture of all my friends you are required to wear a skirt or dress when entering the Kgotle

Tip when packing- bring long skirts or a dress they suggest it and its a good idea. Tough on another note, shorts and pants are worn on campus so don’t get worried about whether or not you can pack them, you can.

 

 

 

Mmakgodumo Dam, Manyana Rock Paintings and the Livingstone Tree

These are all interesting parts of the culture here in Botswana.

Many of the Rock paintings that we saw were over 2000 years old and included images of impala and giraffe. The Livingstone tree is an awesome fig tree where Livingstone a missionary back in the 1800s came and taught locals about god, how to reach and write and healed them (as he was also a doctor).

Mmakgodumo Dam

Bahurusthe Cultural Lodge

The cultural lodge was amazing with dances for the men and women (we tried to perform one that 14-16 aged girls would do to show the coming of themselves. We (the women) were also given the chance to grind sorghum for the men, the guys got to do a dance to. Then they were shown to their tents and some of us slept in tents while others slept in a hut. I slept in a hut, it was nice but got really cold.
Tip #2: If you go in the fall semester pack warmly, it gets seriously cold at night here

We were also taught about the Bahurutshe Culture including the fact that the baboon was their animal totem and that in their village back before independence it was common for marriages to occur only within the clan, so you would marry your uncles son or daughter.  We also got to talk about the changing of culture though and how many of the younger ones no longer stay in the villages or have arranged marriages. After the dancing and music we also got to eat a traditional meal and had breakfast the next day.

Mokolodi Game Drive

Impala Crossing the road

Being a person who loves animals, this was my favorite part. We also got food here and got to watch the hippos in the distance while eating. I hope to go back again to do a horseback tour.

Things seen included: Impala, giraffe, warthogs, birds (white egret, go away bird, and horn bill), wildebeasts, white rhino and her 5 wk old baby (adorable), ostrich, zebra,and hippos, we even got to see some of their rescued cheetahs

 

Mother White Rhino
Baby Rhino
Over all it was an amazing weekend, anyone that comes, I suggest you pay the amount and try it!
Here are some other pics
Mokolodi Game ReserveDont mess with the Hippos- we did see some though ^^
Female Ostrich 
Me
Over all it was an amazing weekend, anyone that comes, I suggest you pay the amount and try it!
Go Siame!
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Adjusting to Botswana

7/30/2011

Dumeyla!

Welcome everyone to my Blog about UB (see below for more). I have decided to make this blog some about my trip and some about tips to those who look into traveling to Botswana or other parts of Africa, it may not be the same everywhere but the trends are there. Read, criticize, enjoy as you will

Tip of the Day:

This is one of my first chances to get on the internet since arriving in Botswana on Monday, so quick tip before I start writing bring an Ethernet cord and adapter before you come to campus it will save you so much time you have no idea.

Okay so, My name is Brooke I am a wildlife Biology major studying at the University of Botswana in Gaborone for the fall semester of 2011. Botswana to those who don’t know is a landlocked country just north of South Africa it is unique in that it has both the savannahs, deltas and deserts so for those who love outdoors and traveling as well as seeing new cultures it is the perfect place to look at.

Alright well those are the facts cool I know but not near as cool as actually being here and seeing the city. The city and campus are amazing the drivers are crazy and you will see sidewalk businesses everywhere. That doesn’t even cover everything that I have experienced so far.  My experience of being somewhere totally different actually started in Johannesburg where my flight in was delayed by 2 hours and the flight leaving Joberg left early by 15 minutes.

The Flight

Finally crossing onto land

Tip to remember when traveling long distances be prepared for anything, delays leaving the country seemed to be common with a lot of other students don’t freak out or anything it happens, also if you are fortunate enough to be able to get first class when leaving the states do so, its more comfortable, not that I didn’t enjoy learning about the two men to whom I sat with for 15 hours but trust me if you can and enjoy your sleep do so. But if you like sleeping close to others coach is the choice for you the bosnian man whom I talked to was very nice and played poker most of the trip. I watched movies in case you were curious.

Arriving in Botswana

One of the first things that I would advise to new people coming to Botswana or any other country is patience, seriously you will need it here, do expect that if they say we have a meeting at 3 it probably won’t start till 3:30-4 its almost always a safe bet, same with any schedule, they see timelines as more of an outline and its not just the school but the combes (mini-buses) and others as well, they will get there somewhere around that time, just wait.

The International Orientation which I just finished today is a two day lecture with registration before that. Be prepared in case you dont classes you requested, I would suggest bringing a copy of that with you and others you may like. A lot of people ended up getting different things and I have been told that this is common enough in other countries. But the people make up for it by being very nice and very polite. If you arrive on Monday student volunteers on campus will help you out with bedding and shopping, by now I have been to all the malls and they are all awesome in their own way. Game City was the largest and Main Mall has some awesome street vendors.

After registration you will learn more about the services offered at Botswana and receive a tour this includes a walking tour of campus one day and a bus tour of the city another. The orientation is interesting they have an amazing clinic and health services here as well as a huge 7 floor library its bigger than ours back home, though I haven’t been in it yet, you need a student ID card. I’m planning on going and doing that soon so no worries I will let you know how it is.

Traditional Food

Food here is a bit different from the states for those who love beef and chicken you will love the cafeteria some form of that is always available during lunch and dinner and its so far been really good, they also have pap which is like a maize type of food and rice. Fat Cakes which is like fried dough is amazing! Usually we eat that at breakfast.

We went to a traditional dinner tonight. From which I just returned before coming and typing this. It was held at a nearby village where we ate goat, chicken, pumpkin, rolls and other things including mopane worms a caterpillar that is usually cooked in oil and salt and eaten like that or dried. They are salty but different. The meals where good and as always the people were very nice I even got invited back to the village.

Well that is all I got, not bad I think for my first post ever on this blog. I will definitely try to upload pictures soon as I figure out this program they have on here ^^. I shall talk to you all later

 

 

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Peace, Love and Happiness

I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t had time to update my blog often.  I’m finally taking today to write, and I’m really excited to do it, BUT there will be a few posts loaded at one time.  So don’t miss out!!! (haha)  The weekend of March 26 and 27, ISA took us to La Alpujarra and Salobreña.  Spain is one of the only places in the world that you can go to the mountains one day and the beach the next day (or even the same day!)  We started at La Alpujarra.  We loaded the bus and took a VERY curvy 2 hour trip through the mountains to a little pueblo where we unloaded the bus and dropped all our things off at the hotel where we were staying.  We then got back on the bus and were taken to the start of our hike.  The tour guide was a little impatient with us (probably because there were around 100 Americans that they were dealing with!), but we were able to stop and take pictures where ever we wanted throughout the hike!  La Alpujarra is part of the Sierra Nevada, it’s not high enough to get snow, but it can get very chilly.  Luckily the day we went was absolutely gorgeous!!!
Shortly after we started, we saw a trail of caterpillars.  Some of the guys thought it would be fun to touch them, but before they were able to, the tour guide sternly warned them that this was not a good idea.  These are poisonous caterpillars and after touching them, you would immediately have to go to the hospital because the poison will set in that quickly.  

 

This is what 100 Americans look like walking through the Spanish mountains.

 

 

On our hike, we saw waterfalls, streams, tons of different trees and wildlife.  It was awesome.  We hiked for around 4 hours, and had lunch for an hour.  

 

And we saw wild mountain goats.. very cool!

 

A lot of the streams are red due to the minerals and clay that are drained into the water.
At one point, we ran into this fresh water tap.  To clean the water, they put gas into it, which makes it taste like soda water.  It was pretty gross, but at least we tried it!

 

 

Rachel, Alexis, Bernardo (an ISA director) and Me

 

Once our hike was over we had free time.  Rachel, Brittney and I shared a hotel room and it had a balcony off the back, so while Brittney took a nap, Rachel and I hung out on the balcony until it was time for dinner.  We watched the sun set behind the mountains, it was absolutely gorgeous, but I couldn’t get a picture of how pretty it was.
The next day, we loaded up the bus and headed for Salobreña.  It’s a little beach town very close to Nerja, it was amazing, but Nerja still wins in my book!

 

We were there on a very windy day, which made it a little chilly, but either way, I wanted to swim in the Mediterranean Sea!  The first time I ran into the water, it was so cold it took my breath away.  So I got out and laid in the sun for a while and tried it again.  The second time was much better.  Rachel eventually joined me and we took her waterproof camera to the end of these rocks and took pictures of the other cities along the coast.  It was very fun!

 

 

This is what we saw on the other side of the big rock.  Notice how the color of the water changes because of how deep the water is!  

 

Driving home we could see the Sierra Nevada the whole way!  

 

 

Where the mountains meet the sea.  

 

We had a great time in La Alpujarra and Salobreña.  And it added a few more adventures to my lengthy list of places I’ve been in Spain!  We were planning a trip to Salobreña for this weekend (April 1-3), but since we went with ISA, we decided to head back to Nerja, our favorite beach ever.
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Culture Shock Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

My  name is Sarah Gourley.  I’m currently a senior at MSU studying Spanish Education with a minor in General Business.  I’m living and studying in Granada, Spain for 3 months!!  Even though I’ve been studying for 2 months already, I decided I would start blogging on the MSU webpage.  I hope you enjoy my posts!  They’re pretty lengthy, but I try to cover lots of things in each post!
When I was preparing to study away, all the study away directors kept telling us, “It’s not weird, it’s just different”.  This statement is so true.  To Americans, things here are very different.  The times they eat, how much they eat, the time they get up and go to bed, how late they stay out at the discotecas (clubs), the amount of water they use (or more like don’t use) and many other things.  It’s all so different, but that’s why I came here.  I came here because culture shock and living in a different country are not bad things.. it’s an amazing opportunity for me to be able to experience and take all that Spain has to offer.  And even though right now I miss the convenience of being able to hop in my car and go whenever I want, or being able to take long, hot showers, I am so glad I have the opportunity to be in Spain.  Studying abroad is not for everyone.  You have to be adventureous, willing to take risks, be the outcast, and willing to learn everything that happens in this new culture. 
One of the main things I have had to get used to is walking to class.  I have around a 35-45 minute walk to and from class everyday.  This is NORMAL for Spaniards, especially in Granada.  Granada is a very small city, and everyone walks everywhere.  The first couple of days, when walking to class I got so lost.  I had to ask so many people how to get to school and which roads I need to take to get home.  I had no idea where I was going, and it definitely doesn’t help that I’m so directionally challenged that I can’t even get around Kansas City and I’ve lived there all my life!  Granada is also a cash economy, meaning most places around here don’t accept debit and credit cards, this is also very different because I don’t like carrying cash on me.
So when I was walking to class (lost) the other day, this is what I saw.  The mountains peeking out from behind the buildings.. it was about 8:45am, so the sun was still rising.. it was absolutely gorgeous.
 
Whenever I meet up with friends or my ISA group we meet at La Isabel la Catolica.  My house is about a 30 minute walk to here, so I have to either leave really early or walk really fast haha!  Usually I’m walking really fast to try to get there in time!

La Isabel la Catolica
I wanted you all to see the inside of my house.  We live in a big, apartment like building.  There are 4 apartments on each floor.  Whenever you walk into the buliding, they have lights that you can turn on, but they automatically turn off after like 3 minutes or so.  The people are very careful about the amount of electicity and water they use here, so this way no one forgets to turn out the lights!  In the actual apartments, there are real light switches that don’t turn off automatically haha.
This is my living room.  As you can see it’s very tiny and packed full of furniture.  It’s small, but nice.  There are tile floors in the entire house.  One of the things I wish I would have brought was slippers.. my feet get so cold!  Most of the time I have to just wear shoes.. or 2 pairs of socks.  On the balcony outside the sliding glass doors, there are tons of clothes hangers.  They don’t use dryers for their clothes, since it’s always nice here they let all their clothes hang outside to dry.  As a result, all the clothes that have been washed here are stiff because my host mom doesn’t have fabric softeners.

My host mom as a canary.  I can’t remember it’s name, but he sings whenever it’s sunny out.. which is everyday.  It’s really cute.

This is the kitchen, I’m only allowed to get bananas and water from the kitchen.  And of course eat.  But my host mom doesn’t want me in it any other time.  This is HER area! 
For breakfast, Encarna (my host mom) puts out 2 little muffins, a plantain (which is a small, sweet banana) and a crossiant type of thing with chocolate in the middle and warms up coffee for me.  I usually eat the 2 muffins and the banana, drink the coffee, and take the crossiant to class with me for a snack.  From what I understand from talking to my friends, this is a BIG breakfast.  A lot of them get a couple crackers and a cup of coffee… haha I must have gotten lucky!!
Lunch is the main meal of the day.  It is served around 2 or 2:30.  Encarna usually makes soup or pasta, most of the time with potatoes and vegetables and sometimes meat.  We always have bread with our meals, and a glass of water.  I brought a small thing of Gates BBQ sauce as a gift for my host family, so yesterday for lunch Encarna made chicken and homemade french fries (all natural), and we had BBQ sauce with it.  This was the first time we’ve had something with condiments.. Encarna never uses condiments. 
Whenever I have to take a sack lunch with me for excursions and stuff, she makes me a cheese sandwich with no condiments, and a banana.  My ISA director said that they eat lunch as their main meal that way they have time to work it off, NO WONDER no one is fat here!!! Also, all the little shops in Granada close down for siesta from 2pm-5pm.  This way the workers can go home and eat lunch and take a nap.  Siestas are the greatest thing in the world.
Dinner is a much smaller meal eaten at around 9:30 or 10, but Encarna has hosted Americans for a long time, so she knows we are hungry by 8 or 8:30, so I eat before Encarna and her mom.  Dinner usually consisting of a “tortilla” (omlette type thing that she puts potatoes or melted cheese in), or a sandwich, bread, and yogurt with a glass of water.
There’s only room for 2 people at their kitchen table, so sometimes Encarna eats with me, and sometimes I eat and she hangs out and talks with me, then she will eat with her mom either before or after I do.  I don’t talk to my host grandma very much because she’s very hard to understand, so I’m ok not eating with her.

Another thing I had to become accostume with is the electrical outlets.  I have an adapter I have to use for my computer, my phone and my straightener.  They are all dual voltage because the electricity is different in Spain than in the US.  I have noticed that nothing stays charged for very long, except for my Spanish phone, so I’m constantly charging my computer and American phone.  This is what the electrical outlets look like:

Haha.. one thing I still love to have: diet coke!  Here it’s “coca-cola light”.. it’s the same thing as diet coke. Love it.

 Looking out my window this is what I see..  I believe it’s a hospital, I know there’s 2 hospitals right next to our apartment, one is a real hospital, and the other is for students.. like KU Med.

This is looking the other direction out of my window.  The white building is the hospital for students (Like KU Med). 
Traffic is crazy here, they are crazy drivers, but no matter what, all the cars stop at the cross walks for pedistrians.  It’s very different than the US.  And there are stop lights for the pedistrians.. The cars stop and the pedistrians go.. since there are so many people that walk around this is a wonderful idea.

I’m not exactly sure why there were little horses outside, but I had to take a picture of them.  I think they were giving carriage rides, but I’m not sure.

My bedroom is very small, but it doesn’t need to be very big.  It looks just like a dorm room.  Julie, the caretaker of Encarna’s mom, is also the maid. She makes my bed everyday (even though I make it myself, she remakes it.. hmm whatever), and she tidies up my room, makes sure all my toiletries are in line and neat and she mops the floor like once a week. 
The blinds in my room are freaking amazing!  There’s a crank on the bottom right side of the window to crank the blinds down.. when they’re closed all the way you can’t even tell that there’s daylight outside.  This makes getting out of bed very difficult in the mornings.  The blinds are on the outside of the window..also very different.

The other side of my room.. like I said, it looks like a dorm room.  The cross bar under my desk is covered in seran wrap so it doesn’t get dirty when the girls she houses put their feet on it.  Luckily there is a lot of places to store things in my room.

Haha.. as you can see I didn’t bring very many things with me to wear.  My host mom wears the same thing for like 2 or 3 days in a row, so she doesn’t have to do as much laundry.  I, on the other hand, didn’t want to pack everything that was in my closet at home.  The thing to wear here is skinny jeans or leggings, boots and a nice shirt.  Some things that I regret not bringing: my boots and my pea coat!!  So I went and bought a cute pair of botines (shorty boots) for 9 euro and a cute coat for 20 euro.. not too shabby.  I also bought a purse, a shirt, botines, shampoo, a coat, and a scarf.  When I came home with all my new things my host mom was in shock! She couldn’t believe how much stuff I had bought.. but I told her that I didn’t want to look like an American anymore.. she just laughed so hard.  My blonde hair definitely gives away my American-ness.

The other side of my closet.. like I said before.. lots of room to store things.  Everything that I didn’t need to hang up is in the drawers.  Lots of space.

Coat rack.  You’d be surprised.. even though you would think it’s like paradise here because it’s 45 degrees at night and around 60-65 during the day, the coldness is very different.  It’s very dry and the buildings are so close together that it feels much colder than it actually is.  AND everyone here thinks it’s FREEZING.  They walk around in coats and scarves when it’s above 60 degrees! How crazy.

The heat here is not very strong.  Our apartment is very cold, but this is the heater.  It’s a steam heater.. and I don’t think it’s ever on haha.



I hope this picture turns out, because I can’t see it right now.  This is my bathroom.  I’m only allowed to shower in the other bathroom because that’s the one that Encarna and her mom use.
Granada (and possibly Spain, but I’m not sure) has a shortage of water, so water is very expensive.  Therefore, when using the toilet, we only flush when it’s not yellow (a nice way of saying it anyway). haha.  Also in the shower, to conserve water, my host mom warms the water for me, then she saves that cold water for cooking.  And I have to turn the water on, get my hair and body wet, turn the water off, shampoo my hair, wash my face and body then turn the water back on and rinse off.  The shower head is not like in the US where it’s up high, in my apartment the shower head is moveable.  I have to actually pick it up and rinse myself off and then put it down to wash, then pick it back up.  This makes showering not very enjoyable.
Like I said before, things here aren’t weird or bad, they’re just different.  It’s a very different way of living.  It’s hard to get used to.  I’m definitely feeling culture shock right now, and I miss everything being so convenient in the United States.  I just have to keep telling myself this is why I came here.  And even though i prepared myself for all these changes, it wasn’t ever real until I started living it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Spain.  I love being here.  And I love learning the language and culture.  It’s just very hard to become accustomed to living a different way everyday.  So at the end of the day, living in Spain is not weird or bad, it’s just different.
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