Q&A Spotlight: Erin Kelly

Name: Erin Kelly
Class: Senior
Major: Geography & Environmental Planning
Location: Botswana
Program: CIEE Study Abroad in Gaborone: Arts & Sciences
Her personal blog: https://tsamayabotswana.wordpress.com/

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* When deciding where to study abroad, what led you to choose your destination?
Choosing my destination was unfortunately quite limited. I had restrictions for my major and what classes I would be able to take that would go towards my graduation. It ended up being between Italy and this country called Botswana. Naturally, I chose Italy because who knows what or where Botswana even is? After realizing that Italy was more for arts and business majors, I started researching Botswana and fell in love with it.

* Has your destination met your expectations so far? Why or why not?
So far Botswana has done a great job at meeting my expectations, well besides not having a bunch of elephants near Gaborone. I love elephants and was hoping to see them shortly after I arrived, but that did not happen. I knew that Botswana was a more well developed country than many others in Africa and I was prepared for that. I did not necessarily have many expectations before I left besides a couple of things. I expect there to be running water, a campus community, to learn a lot, make friends of a lifetime, learn the culture, and travel as much as I can. I believe out of these things, I have experienced almost all of them.

* What has surprised you about the culture or lifestyle of your destination?
Something that surprised me about their culture was how they drive on the other side of the road. I did not know this before coming here and the first time I drove in a combi I was terrified. Another cultural difference is people here don’t really believe in personal space. People approach you and stand right on top of you. Your roommate will have friends over and they sit on your bed and at your desk even when you are trying to do some homework. There is not strict line system here either. People will cut in front of you and order what they want like you aren’t even there.

* What challenges have you faced since arriving in your destination?
In the beginning of my trip I definitely faced a lot of challenges. As the weeks have gone on, I find myself adapting and feeling a sense of belonging here. The biggest challenge I faced was the fact that there is not a lot of structure throughout the campus. There are no set rules of what happens when. It seems that everyone does what they want and when they want. Classes started the first week of school and no professors showed up. Even the second week of class one of my professors didn’t show up because he was on vacation. Professors decide to change the time of class or the classroom without telling the class. You have to go to the head of the department and figure out if it changed or not.

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