Tuesday the 10th our group headed back to Gabs for one last night together in the Oasis Motel, where we stayed our first night in Gabs. I roomed with my friend Wendi again- things really came full circle! We got back pretty late, so we only had time for dinner, to repack our stuff, and to say some goodbyes. We wrote each other letters for the airplane and exchanged them that night in Valentine’s Day fashion. We also reflected on our favorite memories of our time together. It’s funny how a few weeks ago, I was so desperate to get home, and now I find myself wishing for a few more days. It was so much harder to say goodbye than I would have imagined. To the people and surprisingly, to the place. Let me just say there were lots and lots of tears. I’ve had to say goodbye many times in my life, but this time proved the hardest by far. We’re spread all across the country and the weirdest part is that there is no “next time”. I better start rebuilding my bank account so I can make some cross-country flights soon!

Wednesday morning, an Oasis shuttle took me to the airport for my departure. A few of my friends were on the same flight out of Gabs. As I drove away from Oasis, from some of the closest and most genuine friends I’ve ever had, and from the city where I’ve spent the past four and a half months, I couldn’t stop crying. I was so incredibly excited to get home, but that didn’t make leaving any easier. The trip home was an emotional rollercoaster. Our flight out of Gabs was delayed three hours, but at least I had some company. When we finally made it to Johannesburg, we gathered in a café and I did some last minute souvenir shopping. Then came another round of tearful goodbyes and I set off for the rest of my journey home alone. My flight from Johannesburg to Istanbul went quite smoothly. It was on time, I was able to sleep, and I sat by a really sweet girl from Germany. When we landed, we were greeted by a massive amount of snow. My thin jacket and sandals were not quite adequate for the weather. I was FREEZING. I had some trouble figuring out where to go in the airport because workers kept giving me different directions. The language barrier sure didn’t help. I then got interrogated by a passport control worker asking me tons of questions about where I was coming from, what I was carrying, etc. It was overwhelming and I found it challenging to keep myself together. Then I had the brilliant idea to read my airplane letters and that led to some uncontrollable sobbing. I’m pretty sure all of the other guests in Burger King thought I was insane. After eight hours in the Turkey airport, I finally set off for the good ole’ USA. I was giddy with excitement to see my family.

The flight from Istanbul to Chicago was the longest yet and because it was during the day, I wasn’t able to sleep too well. I was anxious to get home. I sat by an elderly lady from Macedonia. She was actually unable to speak English or Turkish so no one on the plane could understand her. I helped her to the bathroom, to order orange juice, and to fill out her US entry card. It was challenging to communicate, but I was able to learn what she meant through gestures over the 12 hours. She kept speaking to me in her language, though I clearly couldn’t understand. It was a pretty frustrating plane ride, but I’m glad I was able to help the sweet lady out. I landed in Chicago around 1am according to my time, but it was only 5pm Chicago time. Thursday turned out to be a 32-hour day! My few hours in the Chicago airport were amazing- it was so nice to be surrounded by a familiar language and food. I enjoyed my Chinese and diet coke more than you could possibly guess. My short flight back to Louisville was actually moved up an hour and I landed home around 10pm. The flight was full of anticipation and excitement. When we landed, I rushed towards baggage claim and ran into the open arms of my family. I can’t even describe how amazing it felt to be held by my mom, to hug my dad, and to laugh with my sisters. Even just in the airport, I felt so at home and like everything was right. Five months is a long time to be away from the place where I’ve spent my entire life.

I’ve now been home for almost two weeks. After a few days at home, it really hit me how much I miss my CIEE friends. It feels like there’s a missing piece. To my surprise, Gabs began to feel like home and though I’m not in a huge rush to jump on a plane back, I must admit I miss it a little bit. Perhaps it will get easier with time, or maybe it will just get harder. But regardless of this ache I have to see my long-lost friends, being home is incredible. I haven’t been this happy in a very long time. The smallest things amaze me. When I stepped in my house, I couldn’t believe how clean it was. It feels like a mansion. I still can’t get over my closet- there are so many options, it’s taking me forever to get dressed. Driving felt like a ride. I was nervous to get back on the highway, but I had no problems at all. I love cruising the streets and visiting all the places I’ve missed. I’m in food heaven. I’m slowly crossing all the restaurants I’ve missed off my list. I’m in awe of how full our refrigerator is and how delicious every meal is. It’s still hard to remember that I can shower as long as I want! And my laundry is clean and dry in just hours. I’m amazed by how polite everyone is and how quick and effective service is at stores and restaurants. My list could go on forever. It’s so nice to be comfortable again and most of all, to feel completely safe.

Most of all, I’m just enjoying spending time with my friends and family. Reuniting with a friend you haven’t seen in half a year is simply incredible. There’s so much to talk about and so much to do! I’ve been crazy busy since I’ve been home and haven’t gotten to spend as much time with my family as I would have liked. Still, I’m enjoying the little things like eating dinner as a family and helping my sister with her homework. Jet lag hasn’t completely worn off, so I’m still pretty exhausted. I started back to work at Pier 1 and I’m trying to get things together for next semester at WKU. I’m slowly adjusting back to normal life and enjoying every minute. I have five weeks at home before I’ll head back to school and I plan to make the most of every day. I hope I’ll be able to move forward and bring some of my new perspective from studying abroad with me.

Tonight, my family opened our Hanukkah presents (just a few weeks late!) because we were all together again for the first time. My dad made me a bound book of my blog entries. When I opened it, I began sobbing. What a wonderful gift! Though I’m so delighted to be home and only happier and more thankful every day, I’m sad my study abroad experience is over. It may have been challenging, but it was also some of the most meaningful, eye-opening, and incredible months of my life. Gabs will always hold a special place in my heart. 


Okavango Delta

Last Thursday, I said goodbye to my host family and departed for our group’s final trip to the Okavango Delta. The night before I left, I had a heart to heart with my host mom, perhaps the longest conversation we’ve ever had. She asked me all about my experience, the good and the bad, and asked me to teach my friends and family that African people are just like everyone else. In her words, “we aren’t monsters.” Though my home stay experience hasn’t been perfect, our conversation was a reminder that I am thankful I chose to do a home stay because of all the things I have learned.

We left Gabs around 4am for the 12-hour bus ride. We had a large coach bus, so the ride was surprisingly quick and comfortable. We stayed the first in Maun at a lodge and then departed Friday morning for the bush. We stayed in Moremi, an area right outside the delta. The landscape was surprisingly green! When we arrived, the staff had already set up our tents and the rest of the campsite. The toilets were essentially holes in the ground with a toilet seat above. Because of the rain and the natural passage of time, they became extremely messy and most of us ended up preferring just finding a spot in the woods. Never thought you’d hear me say that, did you? We had bucket showers, but barely any water, so most of us decided to just go without. I’ve never felt so dirty in my life, but I guess that’s part of the true camping experience. The camp staff prepared our meals on the fire and we all gathered together to eat. The meals were diverse and pretty delicious! Though I still can’t say camping is my favorite activity, the staff took great care of us and it wasn’t nearly as awful as I’d imagined.

Each day, we took two game drives- one at 6am and one at 4pm. Our group split into three safari trucks. My group’s guide, Clinton, was an awesome guy and he definitely made the experience extremely enjoyable. Over the three days, we saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, leopards, lions, and wild dogs. Plus the smaller animals like impala, kudu, warthogs, mongooses, and tortoises. It was insane seeing these animals so close up! I’m talking a few feet away in some instances. Clinton taught us all about the animals and was very patient with our questions. My favorite part was seeing the hunting. It was adrenaline rushing! We saw the wild dogs hunt impala and we saw lions hunt a baby warthog. It was actually pretty sad and I couldn’t control tears from coming to my eyes. If you’re not too grossed out, you’ll have to check out my pictures! Though I eventually got a little tired of the game drives, I enjoyed cruising around the area, following tracks, and trying to spot the animals. Plus I just enjoyed being with my friends, laughing and witnessing some of the coolest things.

One day, we did a mokoro boat activity in little canoe-like boats. We were in super shallow water, so it was mostly just relaxing. However, a few minutes into the activity, it started raining so we had to cut it short. That was a bummer! On the way back to camp, we got soaked. The whole time we were in the delta, it was rainy and chilly. There was so much mud our safari truck got stuck. I’d rather it be that way than unbearably hot like we expected though. In the rest of our free time, we played cards and did a lot of napping. Waking up at 5 am was incredibly exhausting! The last day, we took a low scenic flight back to Maun. I was a little nervous because the plane was so tiny, but the flight was smooth and enjoyable. That night, our group dressed up for a fancy dinner at a nearby lodge. It was a great ending to a wonderful trip. I’m incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to go to the delta. While I wasn’t too upset to leave because of the whole camping aspect, I really enjoyed my time there and I was able to see things in wildlife most people will never encounter. I got to spend my last week in Botswana with my friends and that’s all I could have asked for.

Sappy reflections and thank yous

I’ve been extremely busy the past few days packing up all my stuff, celebrating with friends, and preparing to leave Botswana. We depart tomorrow morning at 4 am for a trip to the Okavango Delta and I’m very excited! I’m so grateful I get to spend my last few days of my study abroad experience surrounded by friends and in the most beautiful place in this country. I’m not so much looking forward to the bucket baths and dugout toilets, but I know I’ll be home in one week and back to my incredibly comfortable life. This is likely the last time I’ll have Internet before I get home, so I wanted to post one more blog. Time for sappy reflections and thank yous. If you don’t like corny, the following may not be for you.

My time in Botswana has truly affected my understanding of the world around me and has helped me to grow personally too. I can’t wait to see how these changes will manifest themselves in my everyday life. Being exposed to a completely different culture, the good and the bad, has been such a refreshing experience. It has taught me that the way we do things in America is not the only way. Just because it’s what I’m familiar with doesn’t make it right. The way the Batswana greet each other each time they enter a room is so welcoming. It has made me question the way Americans enter a room and immediately avert their eyes from everyone around. I am also extremely impressed with the way the Batswana so kindly welcome their extended family into their homes at any time of the day. My entire time here, I’ve seen maybe two homeless people. It must be so nice to know you always have a place to go. Yet there are many aspects of the culture here that I find offensive and rude. Manners are generally poor. People don’t move over to let others pass. Women talk loudly on their phones in crowded combis. Kids demand things from foreigners. Restaurants have extremely poor customer service. Drivers are insanely reckless! Another thing that bothers me here is the treatment of women. Males are treated with so much superiority and it pulls at my heart to see women being told they can’t achieve things or they need to focus on the household chores. In the beginning, these things infuriated me, but I’ve learned with time that they are engrained in the culture and not at all meant to be offensive.

Personally, these past four months have been the most challenging of my life. If you know me well, you know I’m always up for the next challenge and to push myself harder. Yet I had no clue what was in store for me here. At times it has been incredibly challenging to keep going. Some of the most challenging times have included getting robbed, getting sick, severe bouts of homesickness, harassment from males, and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. But I never gave up and I’m so thankful for that. I’ve gained so much independence while here in Botswana. I haven’t been able to run to my parents for help and that has led me to learn to solve problems on my own. I’ve gained self-confidence in my abilities too. I learned a new language, I conquered the public transportation system, and I even went bungee jumping off a bridge! I’ve become more assertive and more flexible. I’ve had to adapt my lifestyle, getting used to the water being turned off or the power cuts or even not having food in the house a lot of the time. I’ve learned to go with the flow, as you never know when or if things will work out here. I finally understand what it’s like to be a minority. Being stared at is one of my least favorite parts of being here, but I now understand how others feel back home. I’ve also gained such an appreciation for everything I have at home and everything my parents provided for me growing up. When you see the kind of poverty I’ve seen, you can never look at material things the same again. Sure, I miss my iPhone, but living without it these past four months has shown me I don’t need it. I hope it will change my texting habits too! Finally, my study abroad experience has shown me that I absolutely want to see the world! I’ve only had a taste of what’s out there and I know I’ll continue traveling and exploring.

There’s just no way I would have gotten this far without the support of so many amazing people. My CIEE friends have been the best part of this program and I’m so grateful for every single one of them. You each add something unique to this group and I know I’ll miss you all so much. There have been so many times where I’ve felt down and you have helped to pull me up. You encourage me, support me, and push me outside of my comfort zone. I can never thank you enough for making these past four months some of the most memorable of my life. To Sydney, thank you for reminding me to put on sunscreen, for protecting me from creepy men, and for always being up for a good conversation. To Tyler, for keeping me entertained in toxicology and bruising up my arm a few times. You made me stronger 😉 To Sara, for always having a smile on your face and cheering me up with your laugh and imitations. To Claire, for being willing to listen to me vent and being one of the most caring people I have ever met. To Alex B, for pushing me outside my comfort zone and forcing me to have fun. To Nora, for suffering religion with me and introducing me to one of the best book series ever! To David, for your consistent positive attitude. To Connor, for capturing my most embarrassing moments and always checking if I’m all right. To Shiyang, for taking the best pictures I could ever imagine and making any situation fun. To Connie, for always asking the right questions and caring so much about all of our CIEE assignments. To Jess, for teaching me it’s okay to be myself and making me laugh all the time. To Christina, for planning the best mid-semester break trip and for giving me your life advice and wisdom. To Mani, for always making me laugh and taking care of me. To Adela, for making me into a cute pumpkin and never failing to show me you care about me. To Katt, for helping me get home in the beginning when I could never remember the directions. To Thomas, for inspiring me to keep learning Setswana. To Wendi, for always being up for an adventure and for being my friend since we met on the plane here. To Corinne, for splitting taxis with me and offering an interesting perspective on any issue. To Alex W, for your encouragement and being one of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever known. To Sha-Hanna, for making me laugh and loving me even though we are so different. To Steph, for your optimistic attitude and overall adorableness. To Ryan, for being my friend since the very beginning. And to Sol, for your life advice and ability to make me feel like everything will be okay. I love each and every one of you so much!

I also owe my gratitude to the CIEE staff for all your hard work in making this program amazing. Without the CIEE program, I doubt I would have lasted here. I have appreciated your support from the beginning to the end. I hope we can keep in touch! Additionally, I want to thank my parents because I know I would not have come this far without them. I appreciate your financial and emotional support immensely. I appreciate your help getting ready for the program and encouraging me since long before I stepped on the plane. It means the world to me that you believe in me and gave me your blessing to study abroad in Botswana. I know it hasn’t been easy to have me so far away and watch me struggle, but I hope the changes you see in me make it all worth it. I love you both so much and can’t wait to see you in just a few days!!! I also want to thank my friend Autumn back home. You have been supportive through my entire journey and I don’t think I could have done it without you. Can’t wait to see you soon! Finally, I want to thank everyone who has been reading my blog. Your encouragement has pushed me to continue blogging about my experience and has made me feel just a little bit closer to home. I’m just so thankful to have had the opportunity to study abroad. Through all the challenges, I can say it has still been an incredibly positive experience.

Victoria Falls

I just returned from a weekend getaway to Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. I’d been hoping to make it up to Zimbabwe since I found out I’d be studying abroad in Botswana, so I was thrilled that we finally figured out the details of the trip and made it happen! A group of 11 of us left late Wednesday and drove through the night. Our driver was over an hour late to pick us up, so we all started to get worried and frustrated. All it took to calm down was to remind myself that I am in Botswana and this was perfectly normal and acceptable. After a long drive, we arrived at the border crossing around 9am and got our visas with no problems. This was quite a relief- you never know what kinds of issues you’ll deal with when crossing borders. We checked into our hostel, Shoestring Backpackers, by 11. The hostel was extremely welcoming and had a pool, extremely cheap meals, and various vendors. Upon arriving, we had to stop at an ATM to pull out American dollars. Holding American money was such a foreign feeling- I missed it! We soon headed out to check out the tiny town of Victoria Falls, which was super touristy, but full of great souvenirs. We discovered that the entire town only had three restaurants (excluding fast food). That made meals a little difficult, but the food was still a nice change from what I eat in Gabs. I also discovered that vendors in Gabs are not quite as aggressive as I thought. In Zimbabwe, the men would get in your face and refused to back away after being told no. We had to slam the car door on them to get them to leave us alone! They were trying to sell us billion-dollar Zimbabwe currency, now worth less than a penny. I was definitely thankful to be in a group and not walking around the city alone.

Later that afternoon, a few of us headed to the Victoria Falls Bridge to bungee jump. Many people asked me what could possibly entice me to jump off a bridge, and I’m still not quite sure about my answer. I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and what better place to experience it than in Africa, where I’ve already pushed myself so far outside of my comfort zone. As I waited for my turn and watched a few friends jump before me, I started to get extremely nervous. I actually started to feel sick and debated backing out. After I was harnessed and my legs were wrapped together, I walked to the edge of the bridge. As I stared down at the water below me, I started to panic. The bridge was so much higher than I’d expected. The workers tried to calm me down and instructed me to jump out as far as I could. They started counting and I told them I wasn’t ready. When they got to three, I couldn’t jump, so they pushed me. I ended up going down vertical in the beginning, which was definitely not supposed to happen. Regardless, those few seconds of free fall were the coolest feeling I have ever experienced. I can’t even describe what it felt like, other than to say I wish I could do it again and again. When the bungee cords caught me, I was extremely relieved. I bounced up and down and spun in circles before finally hanging upside down above the water waiting to be pulled up. That was my least favorite part- the blood was rushing to my head and I could feel my heart beating irregularly. As I made my way back to the bridge, my body was shaking and I couldn’t believe what I had just done. I’m so glad I followed through because it was an amazing experience that I know I’ll never forget. What a crazy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful to my friend Claire for encouraging me and never allowing me to back down!

After recovering from the adrenaline rush and a wonderful cold shower, our group headed to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed my pesto pasta, even if it was nowhere near the traditional Thanksgiving menu. Our options were limited! Our waitress spilled a Fanta Orange on me, and I certainly did not enjoy being sticky the rest of the night. We took turns saying what we are thankful for and enjoyed the evening together. I was incredibly thankful to be surrounded by such wonderful people and traveling to places most people will never be able to see. That night, the sleeping situation was less than ideal. The hostel blasts music until midnight and without a fan, we were pretty miserable. We were in a malaria zone, yet the hostel wasn’t able to provide mosquito nets for every bed. I woke up the next morning covered in mosquito bites. I counted this morning and found at least 140. I look like I have a funky skin disease- no exaggeration. I’m thankful I’ve been taking my malaria medication. Here’s to hoping it works!

The next morning, we headed to the falls to see the view. We walked around the area for a few hours, gazing at the gorgeous surroundings and snapping pictures. The waterfalls were breathtaking. It was hard to believe such as an immense physical structure was real. I had to just stand there awhile. It was so nice to be surrounded by green, as I’m used to nothing but dirt. We even saw a few rainbows stretching over the waters. One of my friends commented that staring out at the falls made her understand why people believe in God. I couldn’t agree more. There were 16 stops on the trail, so we got to see all angles of the falls and we all got pretty soaked. It’s pretty hard for me to describe the beauty of Victoria Falls. Check out my Facebook pictures to see for yourself! After walking around all morning, we enjoyed lunch at a restaurant in the park and then wondered around the town for some more souvenir shopping. We stayed at the hostel that night and enjoyed a cheap dinner, good company, and even a tribal dance performance.

After another night of vicious mosquitos, we left early Saturday morning to head back to Gabs. I was bummed to be leaving such a beautiful place, but I was excited to get away from the mosquitos and to get a good night’s rest. Traveling is so much more exhausting that you’d think! On the way home, we were stopped at several checkpoints and asked to wipe our shoes in a mysterious substance that looked like dirty water to me. The purpose was apparently to stop hand, foot, and mouth disease, but we all agreed that it seemed it would only spread it. Most things in Botswana don’t seem to make sense, but you learn to just do it so you can move on. I overall had an extremely wonderful weekend and I’m so thankful I made it out to Vic Falls during my last two weeks here. When I got back, I was met by tons of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah photos of friends and family. It was a little upsetting, especially because my older sister surprised my mom by showing up in Louisville. I miss them both so much! It was hard to miss my family gatherings and friends being reunited, but at least I got to spend the holidays in a magical place. Plus, I’ll be home in just a little over a week!

The countdown begins…

This past week has been incredibly busy. I was actually worried about being bored because a lot of my close friends were in Zanzibar and I had an entire week without classes or finals. I have found that the key to avoiding homesickness is keeping busy, so I made sure to find things to do this week! It has actually turned out to be one of my most fun and memorable weeks in Gabs.

 On Monday, I had the opportunity to shadow a pediatric HIV/AIDS doctor at one of the local clinics (thank you Claire!). Because Dr. Meyerstein is from America, English was used in all of the consultations. It was such a relief to finally understand what was going on. There was also a resident from Canada, so that was pretty cool! My hours at Baylor clinic were some of the most educational and enjoyable I’ve had in Botswana, and most of the things I observed left me in complete shock. We saw five patients over the course of four hours and each case was surprisingly complex. The physical exams yielded good results minus some major growth stunting (a 12 year old who I had guessed was 6) and hearing loss in almost all of the patients. The majority of the patients were virally suppressed, but I was shocked to see so many social issues the doctor had to deal with. One father kept forgetting to give medication to his son and when being lectured on the importance of strict adherence, he just kept laughing. In several of the cases, the person responsible for the child’s medicine was a sibling- 18-year-old girls in two cases. I couldn’t believe they were dealing with such a large responsibility at such a young age, especially when the mothers were still alive. There were also some issues with disclosure. At a certain age, the doctors try to explain HIV/AIDS to the children. The doctor told the kids they had a “bad guy” fighting their body and their medicines were the “soldiers” to keep their body strong. Several of the children failed to understand or were trying not to because the idea of HIV/AIDS as it is portrayed in the media here is not pleasant. I could tell Dr. Meyerstein was getting frustrated. He was acting like a psychologist too! On top of that, there was a LARGE language barrier, so he kept having to call in a translator. Many of the kids had other medical issues that were being ignored, taking the backseat to their AIDS diagnosis. One young boy had several cavities and his parents had been told to take him to the dentist several times, but they just kept ignoring the recommendation.

 The most heartbreaking case was the last patient we saw, a 4-year-old boy. His AIDS/HIV was actually under control, but he had a whole list of other issues. He was almost five and couldn’t speak a word. He obviously suffered from some type of developmental disability, but his mother had failed to have him screened or helped. He was running around the room, hiding in cabinets, biting and hitting me, and his mother couldn’t even get control of him. Both of his membranes in his ears had been burst for years, oozing liquid, yet his mother hadn’t taken him to an ENT. He had a disgusting fungal toe infection (probably because he didn’t wear shoes) and he also had a huge hernia on his abdomen. My heart broke for this little boy and all the other kids, born with AIDS and required to deal with it the rest of their lives when they did absolutely nothing to contract it. The mother of this kid was clearly fed up with his difficult behavior and at one point, she slapped him hard on his head. The doctor yelled at her about how harmful that is and threatened to call the police for child abuse and all she did was laugh. I had to bite my lip to keep back tears. I could go on and on about all the crazy things I saw at Baylor, but that was a summary of the things that most stick in my mind. Though it was awfully sad, I am thankful I had the opportunity to shadow Dr. Meyerstein. It made me think about international medicine and that I may want to spend some part of my career in a developing country. It’s hard to really imagine the great need until you see it firsthand.

 Tuesday and Wednesday, I knocked out my last paper at a local café. With some good food, I was quite productive. Tuesday night, I experienced my first lengthy power cut. I’m used to the power cutting out for an hour or so, but this government power cut lasted for almost five hours! Frankly, it sucked. I didn’t think anything could be worse than the weekly water cuts! Without a fan, I thought I might die of heat exhaustion. Until my host mom got home and set out some candles, I walked around with my headlamp on. Without the Internet to distract me, all I could do was lie there. And I couldn’t even heat up any food for dinner! At that point, I was just incredibly miserable. But looking back, I couldn’t have really gotten the full Botswana experience without it.

Thursday night, the movie Catching Fire was released and I got to go see it! I still can’t believe it was actually released here, when movies normally come weeks after. And I even got to see it hours before anyone back home! That’s irony, if I’ve ever seen it. I LOVED it. Friday night, we celebrated my friend Adela’s birthday at a fancy restaurant. A new bar had just opened on the rooftop of a tall building, so we decided to check it out. The view of Gabs from the 19th floor was gorgeous. It somehow looked like a real city and the view made me a tad bit upset about leaving this place that I’ve learned to call home. It was incredibly windy and cold, which was actually a welcome change! The drinks were overpriced and the service was poor, but we danced and made it into a fun night. When we were leaving, we had some issues with the bill not adding up and found out the waitresses had pocked our cash. We fought them for about an hour, trying to get it worked out, but we had no proof we had paid. Every time I start to think Gabs isn’t so bad after all, things like this happen. I still can’t believe they got away with stealing our money. I definitely will not being going back to the Sky Lounge. Saturday night, we had a big end of the program celebration at the same club I went to in the beginning of the semester and hated. I was nervous about going, but it was the last big hoorah so my friends dragged me there. With so many of us there, the locals had a hard time getting near me, so it was much more enjoyable. I danced the night away in great company and spent the night at UB.

I am officially finished with school! I turned in my last paper and took my two finals yesterday and today. Taking finals here was a totally new experience for me. Compared to the carelessness the professors show with lectures and assignments, final exams were taken extremely seriously. I took both finals in a large room with several proctors watching us at all times. We had a reading period, time warnings, and a formal exam booklet, similar to an AP test. My first exam in Toxicology was extremely difficult and some of the questions were about things we had never covered. On top of that, it was worth 50% of my grade, so I’m now a little worried. On the other hand, my second exam was so easy, I had to laugh a little. I’m just grateful to be finished with this school. I’ve never been so thankful for my WKU professors and peers. Now that I’m finished with school, I can enjoy the rest of my time here. I leave tomorrow for a trip to Victoria Falls (I’m bungee jumping!!). I’ll be back for a few days to pack and then I’m off again to the Okavango Delta for the ultimate safari. When I return, I’ll be boarding my plane home. I can’t believe how soon I’ll be back in the ville. 16 days to be exact. The countdown begins. While I mostly can’t wait to be home to see my family and friends, there is still a small part of me that knows I’ll miss it here. Not so much the harassment or the food or the heat, but I know I’ll miss my friends so much. This past weekend was incredible and it made me realize how lucky I’ve been to be surrounded by such a great group of people these past few months. I honestly can’t imagine life without them and that makes coming home seem just a little bit less wonderful. While I feel like I’ve been in Botswana for quite a long time, I still can’t believe my study abroad experience is coming to end. I’ve imagined studying abroad in college as long as I can remember and now my experience is nearly over. At least I can say it’s been a wonderful one!