Archive for July, 2011

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Kelsey: At the one-month mark

July 30, 2011

I’ve already made it to the one-month mark, which seriously blows my mind. The days here are flying by faster than I ever thought they would. I’ve already done SO many amazing things, and I haven’t even done the coolest things on my list of things to do! 

I had to do an assignment for a class I’m taking through the U that is all about reflecting on your experience and talking about the ups and downs that come along with “culture shock.” Culture shock is defined as having a “Honeymoon” stage where everything is great and you have no complaints, a “Frustrated/Down” stage where you can’t stop comparing your new culture to one that you’re familiar with and usually the familiar culture is perceived as “better”, the “Adjustment” stage where you’re finally getting used to how things work and rarely compare to home, then finally there is the “Mastery” stage where you are fully comfortable in the no-longer new surroundings and act as if this was your home culture. In the assignment we had to describe how we’ve been feeling within the first month and which stages that we may call ourselves in at the moment. I said that I don’t think that culture shock is a process that you continue to go over just once, I think it’s a process that could last months or it could all be in one day. If I were to put myself in any stage at this moment it would be the Adjustment stage because I’m finally starting to get the hang of this crazy place! 

Honestly though, I could not have been doing this well here if I didn’t have such great support at home from family and friends. It means the world to me when people pop in and ask how I’m doing and say that they love my pictures/blog etc. 

It has already been a wild ride and I haven’t even gone on my upcoming ski trip or weeklong backpacking trip! Keep looking for pictures/blog posts, I’m going to try my best to keep up!

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Alex: Matauranga Maori

July 28, 2011

I checked out books from the library for the first time today.

I’m largely caught up on my homework, and in addition to looking for something to fill my time I was looking to start my research in earnest. I explained my project to my Anthro tutor (which is what they call TAs) who is also an American, and the rest of my Anthro tutorial this morning. I get more and more excited every time I mention it, and since it is the reason I spent all this money to fly half way around the world, I felt like I should get to work. Also, I have yet to hear from a single tattoo artist, so the approach that I had intended to take to this project has yet to bear fruit and I needed to feel like I was doing something.

So I was at the library this afternoon, struggling to find the books I was looking for, when I saw one of the books was marked in the system as being in the Matauranga Maori section. I had no idea what matauranga meant (it means education, knowledge). So I wandered around the first floor of the library when I noticed it: half of the floor set back and labeled with a large sign beckoning from the drop ceiling “Marautanga Maori.”

I walked into this section, and understanding crept up on me slowly and warmly. It started in my toes and by the time I had found my section the feeling was near my eyeballs and I had to use all my considerable force of will to restrain an actually giggle of delight. There is an entire section of this library dedicated to Maori topics. Minnesota has one of the largest archives in the country, and Maori topics is a sub-division of a sub-division. Like a kid in a candy store, I wanted to pull everything from the shelves and gorge myself until I was sick. I resisted, but only just.

I ended up only taking two books on ta moko home with me. Voracious as I am, I know myself and I know that if I could only have them for a month, I may accidentally skip homework in favor of pouring myself into these books. Upon arriving at home I had to once again restrain myself from tearing open my backpack like a child on Christmas morning. I dutifully did my homework, and then sat down and devoured an entire book just this evening. My hunger was so great I totally forgot myself, I had no conception of the passing time. As it turns out, my hunger was actually so great because I had forgotten to eat anything.

This project is going to go oh so very well.
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Katie: Coming home

July 28, 2011

Whelp, the time has come for a final post. I realize it is a little late, but I guess waiting this long has given me time to reflect on my adventure to the UK.

I spent my last days that I had in London exploring the city. I was able to attend the Harry Potter Red Carpet Premiere. I was amazed to have gotten as close as I did, especially since I thought I wouldn’t even get in. I ended up getting to Trafalgar Square later than I had hoped and was lucky enough to receive one of the wristbands needed to attend the premiere. So my friend Ayla, whom I met at the Hostel I was staying at, and I went back to our Hostel and waited til later that night when we checked out of the hostel and headed to Trafalgar Square to sleep…or at least try to sleep that night. We woke up at 4am with the sun and stood waiting for a total of 16 hours in the rain before the stars started to arrive.

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Ayla and I made some friends at the premiere – Sammy, Cat, Katie, and Elissa:

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I even made it in some press images:

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I was really excited to see J.K. Rowling

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The premiere was crazy, amazing, and so tiring but so worth it. It was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity and a great way to end the series that many of us grew up with. Coming to London I never thought I would sleep in Trafalgar Square.

The Last day I decided to bike around the city. A lot of things can get lost when you ride the tube everywhere. Your sense of direction is played with. So I decided to rent a bike for the day and spend my final hours riding around London.

Biking

I stumbled upon these pianos that were placed around the city for anyone to play.

After traveling for more that 23 hours I arrived back home.

So I have been back in America for a total of 17 days. It has been bittersweet. I keep remembering that I actually lived in another country and it boggles my mind realizing that my adventure is over. I miss London like crazy but being away for so long has made me appreciate America so much more. I haven’t gone through much culture shock, probably because I was only gone for 7 weeks as opposed to an entire semester. I have noticed that I still try to convert prices to dollars even though the price is already in dollars. I was overjoyed to walk into my room and see all of the clothes that I left here. After 7 weeks of wearing the same 10 outfits over and over again, I am so excited to wear different clothes. I am also enjoying the vast amount of open space here. Everything in London was crowded and condensed. I love looking out the window of the car and seeing cornfields, I will always have a piece of London with me but I still love Iowa.

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Kelsey: Snow!

July 27, 2011

Another week (and a half!) of classes has flown by and I’m starting to really get in the groove of everything. It’s nice because here you have options besides buying the textbook because you can use them at the library for an hour and a half at a time, it’s great! So far I haven’t had any problems with going to the library (except for motivation to leave the house..). I decided to participate in a paying research study to get some extra moola (paying research studies are rare!) On Thursday I did my first day of it and it was harder than expected but it’s for a good cause and I’ll get $125NZD for doing it! Booyah!

Thursday night we decided to go to town but going at 10pm proved to be too early so in our attempt to waste time until the bars picked up, we went into a bar that had a band playing live music. The band was actually pretty good and it made me miss going to see Chester Bay and jamming out. After listening to them and watching some rad Michael Jackson music videos that were playing on the TVs we finally met up with my roommates and when to a bar named “Metro.” There wasn’t anyone there really when we first got there but it soon picked up and we danced the night away! That’s something that’s very unique (at least it’s different to what we do at home!) about Dunedin, they only go out on Thursdays and Saturdays and they usually don’t start going out until about 11:30p-12a. It’s crazy! And usually by the time everyone gets there, I’m ready to go home! 

Friday was the All Blacks game that we had bought tickets for a few weeks ago. The All Blacks are the New Zealand professional rugby team that will be participating in the Rugby World Cup in a few weeks and this was a rare opportunity to see them and not pay ridiculous prices for it! We had a cab reserved for 6:40p to pick us all up at Suzy’s house. Well 6:40 rolled around, then 6:50, then 7:00. We called the cab company and they said there is nothing they could do for us and that our cab wouldn’t be there any time soon, so after the typical American backlash we had to find another ride to the stadium because if we were to walk we wouldn’t see the whole first half. To our luck Suzy’s kiwihost offered to take us there but we had to go in two groups. I was in the first group to get there with Anna, Emmett and Lauren. I realized almost right after we got there that I had the camera batter that wasn’t charged and I forgot the other one so I called back to the second group to tell them to go and get the other one from my house but they didn’t want to so needless to say I was upset about not being able to get any pictures from the game. The game was a lot different than what I thought it was going to be. Throughout the game it was very quiet compared to any pro sports team in America. The one time that the whole stadium got excited (apart from when the All Blacks scored) was when they did the wave, which was much more exciting that normal because as soon as it got to the student section, they all threw up their green plastic beer bottles. It went around about 4 or 5 times and each time there were more and more bottles being thrown in the air. From the sitting section, it was a fun sight! The All Blacks ended up winning 60-14, so it was quite the blowout! 

On Saturday we were going to go see the penguins but the plans were not very well planned out so we scratched that plan and ended up going to the reservoir in the hills. It was absolutely beautiful and the lake reminded me a lot of home. The trails went on forever but we left with enough time to get back before sunset. I will definitely be going back to take some better pictures during the day!

On Saturday night we all got together to celebrate Victoria’s birthday (which wasn’t until Sunday but who parties on a Sunday?) We had some cake and sat around until it was the acceptable time to go out to the bars. We first went to Malbas (a hip bar with a fireplace and about 02938402398 different rooms/bars), but we didn’t stay long because the DJ was playing really lame music and we ended up at Monkey Bar again and stayed there the remainder of the night. 

Sunday morning I wake up and walk downstairs to SNOW!

It was so great! My roommates and I just sat in the lounge all afternoon and watched the snow pile up in our tiny lawn and even going outside at one point to catch a few snowflakes in our mouths. I had to go to the grocery store and I asked if anyone else wanted to join the flat shopping time but no one else (especially my kiwihost!) wanted to venture out into the snow. After my very windy trip to the grocery store, it was time for our weekly dinner at Anna’s house. We had tomato soup and grilled cheese and Anna made pear-apple-cranberry cobbler that was freaking delicious. 

Monday morning I woke to even more snow and my kiwihost said this was the most snow she’s ever seen, which is funny because you could still see grass blades sticking up (I’m pretty sure we only got around an inch of snow). A lot of NZ students were saying that it was a snow day but I didn’t trust that just because snow is rare here. Well I went to my first class and after we all sat down, someone finally checked their e-mail and we figured out that our class was cancelled because the professor couldn’t get onto campus. My second class was still on only because our professor had a pre-recorded lecture ready. Everything about the snow, in my Minnesota mind, was hilarious. People were walking around (in their Converse tennis shoes) as if the ground was covered in ice and that any wrong move they were going to fall to their death. Then there is me, walking around in my hiking shoes in NORMAL strides, and even slightly faster, and they are looking at me like I’m walking on water! I couldn’t help but giggle while I was walking around. Even the cars had put their freaking snow chain tires on, when the snow was melting before their eyes! Now the snow is all gone and just a funny memory…

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Lauren: Week 5

July 25, 2011

Tuesday, July 19th –
We returned from a trip to Paris the night before around midnight.  I had two papers to finish writing, one for my Media Class, and the other for my Art History final.  I finalized both Tuesday morning, and it was a relief to be done with the both of them (especially Art History).  For my media class, we had a guest speaker.  He was a very intelligent man, but not entirely good at public speaking.  It further confirmed how important it is to be able to communicate with others.

In Art History, we received our final exam grades (I got a B+).  Soooo happy to almost be done with this class.  My teacher, Pia, is absolutely terrible.  That night, we went out to celebrate finishing our research papers.  It was Scholar’s again for Karaoke, which was great, as always.

Wednesday, July 20th –
I spent the day out and about in Rome with friends.  We went shopping on Del Corso and I picked up a few gifts for my loved ones back home!

That night, we tried out a new place called “DJ Bar”, which was great!  We had a ton of fun dancing the night away…and it really hit me how much I’m going to miss all my new friends!!  Especially the ones from Michigan State, who I won’t have the ability to see for quite some time!

Thursday, July 21st –
We went to Vatican Radio Station to have a personal interview with our professor, Sean Patrick.  It was weird being in a recording studio and being asked questions based on my resume, but it was also a very eye-opening experience!  This has been one of the best classes I have ever taken.

The rest of the day was dedicated to packing for the weekend, which consisted trips to Milan, Verona, and Venice!  Stay tuned for more on that trip

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Shawnda: And life goes on…

July 24, 2011

“We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us” [John Steinbeck]

In less than 12 hours I will begin my long journey back to the tropical rain forest that is now Minnesota.

Saying goodbyes have never been easy, but even more so now.  I am leaving new friends and a new home.  I think no matter where I go in life, a part of me is permanently attached to Botswana.  My goodbyes are only simple “until next time”s or “I’ll see you again”s.  It’s so difficult to accept the fact that I may not see these people ever again.  We were brought together across the world, we have grown together, and have experienced the many trivialities of this country; it’s hard not feeling some kind of bond. 

Still, life goes on.  One day I will return, even if it’s in one year or twenty.  I’ve realized that it normally takes a great deal of difficulty getting to the places you want to go, whether it’s smelly flights or bug infested train rides.  But once you are there, your true journey begins. 

I have fears of leaving, fears of coming back to the US, and fears for my future.  I don’t as if my time is finished in Botswana, I’m afraid of how overwhelming the states will be, and I’m still unsure of what I will do with the rest of my life.  Maybe two days worth of travel will solve that…maybe not.

Expect some travel updates in the near future along with my last odds and ends from my time in BW.

Ke a leboga Botswana.  The lekoa will be back someday.

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Lauren: Quick updates

July 23, 2011

Tuesday, July 12 – For my communications class, we discussed the role of newspaper, and how it must be looked at analogically in order to find greater meaning.  It was very interesting, as always!  Our professor is absolutely amazing, and probably one of the best I have ever had!Sorry for the wait!  It’s been a very busy week and a half!  Here’s a quick summary before I get to the good stuff!

Monday, July 11 – We needed a day of rest from our busy weekend in Florence.  My roommate, Janel, made a fabulous chicken dinner and we stayed in for some roomie bonding!  We also watched the movie, “Letters to Juliet” which made me very excited to go to Verona!

That night, we went to an amazing spaghetteria.  I had pasta with smoked cheese, bacon, olive oil, and onions.  It was DELICIOUS.  After dinner, we (once again) went to karaoke, got ridiculous, and rocked the place!!  As always, it was awesome!  Several song highlights include Independent Woman (Destiny’s Child), Jitterbug (Wham), and My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion). 

Thursday, July 14 – Our communications professor took us to see an ancient “Domus” (aka Roman house) that was found beneath a palace in the center of Rome.  They believe it once belonged to a senator.  The house itself was discovered merely six years ago, while renovating the palace cellars.  Since then, the area has continuously been in a process of excavation.  The floor there was completely glass, so we were able to see under into the ruins at all times.  At first, it was a little scary, but ultimately I got used to it.  They did a really great job on the tour of incorporating sound and projections, which made the space come to life.  I think that my dad would appreciate the design elements they used, and I would love to take him here if we ever get the chance.

After this class, we had our Art History final.  Don’t worry, I rocked it. 

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