Midpoint Reflections

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—


I took the one less traveled by,


And that has made all the difference.


This is the quote that inspired the title of my blog. I’ve officially reached the halfway point of the program and I’ve been reflecting quite a bit. When I was deciding where to study abroad, my one criterion was to go somewhere challenging and unique. Though I knew Europe would have been a blast, I felt like I could easily visit in the future (and I will!). I know I could have taken the easier way out, but that’s just not like me. I’m always looking for the next challenge. Though life in Botswana hasn’t turned out to be the easiest, and every minute isn’t necessarily a blast, I chose to take the road less traveled to learn and to grow. I can say without a doubt that I am learning and growing every day. So here are some personal reflections at the midpoint of my time here in Africa!

1) I can confidently say I appreciate everything back home so much more. I’ve come to realize that you are born into a certain social class, and though as you grow up, you can do something about it, as a child you are powerless. I’m so incredibly thankful for the things my parents provided for me and for the lifestyle with which I grew up. When I return, I know that the little things like toilet paper in the bathroom, being able to drive down the street, or even being in an air-conditioned building will mean so much more. And don’t even get me started on how thankful I’ll be for WKU’s organization! I am going to work so hard to maintain this attitude and not revert back to my old ways.

2) I think every spoiled American teenager should have an experience similar to mine. My tolerance for complaining has tremendously decreased. When I see people tweeting about how hungry they are or how much they hate rain or how annoying the new iPhone update is, I have to bite my tongue to not respond in an unfavorable way. These are statuses I once would have made, so my friends can’t be blamed. I only wish I could impart my experience to them fully.

3) I am still affected daily by the robbery, but it gets easier every day. I question every person I pass, I run through the passages, and I cringe every time I see a pocketknife. I’m finding it harder to immerse myself in conversations with random strangers without knowing their intentions. But I think the experience made me more aware of my surroundings and more street smart too. I’ve made changes to what I carry and where I walk that will hopefully prevent something like that from happening again. That’s not to say I’m glad it happened, but I’m trying my best to learn from it and move forward.

4) My time here in Botswana has really made clear to me the people who truly care about me. It’s not easy to keep in touch with people back home, but I’ve made it work. I appreciate each message, email, or piece of snail mail I receive. Sometimes it’s difficult to judge where your friendships stand, but time away certainly makes that crystal clear. I’m also more thankful than ever for my family. Being in a host family makes me miss home more, but it reminds me how much I have to look forward to returning to. I don’t think I thank my parents enough for their support. There’s no way I would be here without them. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder!

5) I’ve also come to realize a lot about myself over these past two months. I’ve always struggled with trying to fit in and when things about me are different, it tends to pull down my self-confidence. My CIEE friends have been so incredible with helping me realize that it’s okay to be different. We are such a diverse group of people and I’ve been exposed to so many differences in culture and opinion. I love it! I’m coming to terms with the fact that it’s okay to be short, to be innocent, to take my schoolwork extra seriously, or even to not really enjoy alcohol. These things are part of who I am and I’m not going to change them for anyone.

6) I’ve realized just how stubborn I can be. For instance, I’ve long convinced myself that I dislike a huge list of foods. But when very few things are available, you eat what’s there. I’m not even talking about crazy things, but normal foods that just weren’t my favorite. I’ve come to realize I actually do like eggs, baked potatoes, cooked carrots, wheat bread, and yogurt, to name a few. I’ve even discovered yogurt and granola to be my favorite breakfast food! My mom will be happy to see my eating habits improve, even if just a little.

These are just a few of the things on my mind. Everything I have learned about myself and others can’t possibly be put into words in one blog post! My study abroad experience has definitely been unique and it has certainly been challenging. It’s not what I expected, but how could I have ever imagined this? When someone asks me how my day was, I usually reply with “fine.” But when asked about my study abroad experience, I say “incredible”!

Many times in my life, I’ve heard people say, “You can’t change Africa, but Africa will change you.” I think I’m finally starting to understand.


3 thoughts on “Midpoint Reflections

  1. Jamie,
    You are an incredible young woman. I join the group who takes pride in knowing you. You are teaching many lessons to all of us. Mazel Tov to you for all you are learning and accomplishing. Be safe in all your travels and experiences. Oh how proud your parents must be!
    Judy Sharp

  2. Jamie: I really enjoyed your comments above and am very impressed with your character, your honesty, and your writing skills. You have learned a lot about yourself and the many advantages many people like you and our family and friends enjoy. I was glad I was able to talk to your mother after your unfortunate robbery experience you had. Also I talked to your sister, Stephanie several weeks ago. , Susan, John, and I are all doing well. Hope I can see you and our family in the near future. Love…………………..Uncle Nate

  3. Jamie
    Just catching up with your blog and I LOVED this post! Getting away from all those comforts and routines of home most def will make you appreciate everything you have. I know it’s hard to be so far away-when I studied in Ecuador I was SO homesick in the beginning but you will be so glad you did this. It really opens up your view on life, travel, other cultures and so many more things! Uncle Jeff and I love you very much and we are so proud of you. ((Hugs))

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