Week 3

This week has gone by so fast. Classes are starting to pick up, which means more homework and less free time. Sunday was a pretty great end to my weekend. I started off the day with a marriage proposal in the mall. A Motswana insisted he wanted to marry me and move back to the US with me, as marrying a white girl has always been his dream. No, I’m not kidding. My combi safari group hiked Kgale Hill- the most famous landmark in Gabs. It only took us about an hour and a half to get up and back down, but it was not an easy hike. It was steep and at some points, we were literally rock climbing. Being short made it extra difficult to pull myself up. I felt like quitting many times, but my group members pulled me up (literally). I am so thankful I stuck it out because the view at the top was completely worth it. You could see the entire city, including the beautiful water. We spent about twenty minutes just taking pictures! It’s been three days and my muscles are still sore. I can’t decide if this means it was a really tough hike or that I’m completely out of shape. I also got sunburnt (AGAIN), despite all the sunscreen I applied. Afterwards, we grabbed food at Game City at Juicy Lucy. I got a decent piece of cheesecake and a lot of cold water. Then we headed to the Gaborone Dam to finish up our scavenger hunt. The dam was already closed to visitors, so we actually had to bribe the worker to let us in. That’s apparently a very common occurrence here in Gabs. The dam was beautiful, but because of the drought, the water levels were extremely low. It was actually a pretty depressing sight. It now makes complete sense to me why the Botswana government has to make water cuts. It quickly got late and we weren’t able to take our last two pictures. But I’m still proud of us for how much we completed!

Otherwise, the school week has been pretty typical. I’m still having trouble getting in contact with the Pentecostal church I’m supposed to be studying and my professor is not answering my email. It’s pretty frustrating and I’m starting to get worried. I finally navigated the library on Monday to find a book for my literature review. Toxicology is pretty boring, but I’m hoping it will get more interesting. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my Toxicology textbook. Developmental psychology is turning out to be so easy. After our lecture on Wednesday, we had to complete a fill in the blank exercise and I could have done it with my eyes closed. Yet other students only got a few right. I was actually late to class too. I slept through my alarm and rushed to school as fast as possible, but was still 15 minutes late. The combis got stuck in rush hour traffic and it seemed like we had to make a stop every two minutes. It’s definitely not as easy as when you live on campus and can run to class in 10 minutes. My teacher didn’t seem too upset, but I’m going to start setting two alarms just to be safe.

My CIEE classes also started this week. I have Setswana every day except for Friday. My teacher is nice, but her teaching style is frustrating. She goes so fast and doesn’t write the English translation on the board, so we all end up getting confused. It feels like freshmen year all over again when I started learning French. It’s actually pretty difficult because there are quite a few sounds in Setswana that I’ve never had to make (ntl, ng, tlh, etc.) Regardless, I’m learning quickly and starting to attempt to use my Setswana in conversations with classmates. I’m excited to see how far I’ll come in the time I am here. We also started our public health classes. The first one is on Tuesday night from 5-7. We started out with an introduction of public health and its applications to Botswana. It was extremely interesting and my teacher seems like a pretty cool guy. The fun thing about having a night class is that the group decided to go out to dinner afterwards. We went to a (sort of) Italian restaurant called Primi Piatti at Riverwalk Mall. The food was good, but the service was pretty terrible. There was a huge mix-up with my side salad and the waiter refused to listen to what we were trying to tell him. It was so incredibly frustrating. The language barrier was probably part of the problem, but it still wasn’t a hard situation to understand. I didn’t leave a tip for the first time in my life.

My final class, which includes the clinics, began Tuesday. My group was assigned to Phase 2 clinic, which is pretty close to UB. We entered the clinic around 7 dressed in our lab coats. The nurses had no idea we were coming, even though there had been previous correspondence. They actually didn’t seem at all happy to have us there. I was a little let down my first clinic experience. I sat in on consultations with a nurse for three hours. Almost all of the conversations were in Setswana, so I had no idea what was going on. Sometimes I could gather that the patient had a rash, for example, by their gestures, but other times I couldn’t even begin to guess the problem. I tried to ask the nurse to explain, but there wasn’t enough time because of the huge line outside her office. It was frustrating and overall insanely boring. It was still very cool to see how the clinic operated and the struggles they are facing. The Phase 2 clinic was dealing with lots of maintenance issues including broken doors and windows, spotty phone and Internet, and worst of all, no heat. I felt so bad seeing sick patients bundled up in blankets, attempting to keep warm. That cannot be good for their health. The clinic was also completely understaffed. No doctor is even on service, so if an emergency occurs, they have to call another nearby clinic. I also noticed many issues with sanitation, privacy, and confidentiality- all things I expected. One baby was sick with rotavirus, meaning he had been vomiting and having diarrhea five times a day for at least a week. It broke my heart to see him in so much pain. I just wanted to give him a hug. I did learn that all Botswana citizens get free clinic visits and free medicines. The clinic had a small pharmacy within it, though most of the medicines were out of stock. They also conducted their own lab work, changed bandages, and administered ARVs to AIDS/HIV patients. Though it wasn’t the most fun four hours, I learned some important concepts. We switch clinics every two weeks, so I’m sure I’ll have better experiences in the future.

I haven’t done too much, apart from school. I’ve actually had quite a bit of homework this week. I went to a mall on Wednesday with some friends and found a hairdryer and straightener. Finally! I also cooked for my host family Wednesday night. I was a little nervous because I’m a pretty terrible cook, but it turned out decently edible. I made pesto pasta with chicken and garlic bread. I couldn’t really tell if they liked it, but I sure did. I found some grapes and yogurt that I brought back to my house too. Much needed to make up for all the fat cakes and seasoned “chips” I’ve been eating. I got to Skype on Tuesday with my sisters. They had high school orientation, so I wanted to give them advice about their teachers. It made me so happy to be able to talk to them, even if from a few continents away. I’m doing pretty well overall and feeling stronger each day. I’m excited for the weekend, but I’m not quite sure what I’ll be doing. We might go see a movie tomorrow night. Saturday we are taking a trip to a nearby village with all the other international students at UB. 

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