Meet the Students – Eve H.
Eve H. was a second semester Freshman when she walked into the Student Affairs office one April morning and asked if she could study in Botswana that coming fall and spring. The day she asked was actually the deadline to apply to Botswana, but Eve got a three day extension and managed to hand in her entire application on time. Within weeks she was ready to spend her sophomore year in Botswana.
Gaborone, Botswana, University of Botswana:
Eve attended the University of Botswana in Botswana in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013.
What was your major?
Why did you decide to study abroad?
Eve: I decided to study abroad because I was ready for a change of scenery. Coming to Western after living in Connecticut for my entire life wasn’t as big a jump as I thought it would be. The opportunity allowed me to get out of my comfort zone, something that was much appreciated as I had been in it my entire life.
Did your time abroad meet your expectations?
Eve: My time abroad exceeded all of my expectations. It was the best time of my life.
What were your favorite and least favorite foods?
Eve: My favorite food would be a fat cake. It’s deep fried bread – so lovely. My least favorite food would be the liver. I’m not a fan of liver – it has an interesting texture.
Did you travel a lot?
Eve: Yes. I traveled all over Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, and Namibia.
What did you do during your free time?
Eve: I explored. Everything is pretty much within walking distance from the university, even a game drive, and if not then I could take a combi for 3 pula 50 thebe to get anywhere you would like to go in the city. I also chilled with friends on campus on days it’s too hot (which is frequent) – you don’t really want to move about so it’s easy to find a lot of things to do and people to see on campus since no one is trying to roam around town in the hot sun. There’s Kgale Hill, a lovely hill only a combi ride away which provides a great hike and beautiful views. There are plenty of bars and night clubs for the night life.
What were your favorite and least favorite things to do while abroad?
Eve: My favorite thing to do while abroad was to travel. I recommend getting around while you can, especially in Botswana – since you’re bordered by so many countries it’s pretty easy to find a way to get wherever you want to cheaply. There are a lot of festivals to go to which is great because you’ll have some of the biggest house artists performing and tons of people for a pretty cheap price.
My least favorite thing to do would be taking care of permit issues at immigration. It really is a hassle – you have to keep up with them and be like “I need this, you have to do this, get it back to me,” or you’ll just never get it.
Was communicating easy?
Did you learn a new language, and how fluent would you consider yourself?
Eve: Yes, I learned Setswana, the main language other than English in Botswana. I consider myself semi fluent. I took a class and spent a year there so I can understand most phrases but I have trouble reading and writing.
What difference did you find with regards to academics?
Eve: Coming from Western, I believe you will be fully prepared for what University of Botswana has to throw at you academic wise. It’s not hard, really. The only difficult thing is that it may be hard to understand some teachers, but that’s not even a major issue since teachers upload all notes onto the internet for you to access later.
What advice would you give to other students traveling abroad?
Eve: Immerse yourself into the culture as much as possible, make friends with the locals, try to learn the language. The people will notice and appreciate the effort and that’s why you are there in the first place.
Think back to when you first arrived in your host country. What was something that surprised you and/or something that was totally different from what you are used to in the U.S.?
Eve: Everything is way slower. There’s no rush, really, being late doesn’t exist. It’s a nice change of pace from life in the States where time is money and we feel the need to run to every appointment. Something else that surprised me is the amount of respect given to elders. Walking the streets or right when you walk into the room you have to greet every elder personally. It’s nice, created a sense of community I rarely get at home.
How would you summarize your overall experience?
Eve: Overall, this was the best time of my life. I had the opportunity to meet some of the most kind and engaging people I have ever had the opportunity to connect with. The sun would shine every day, there was always something to do, someone to talk to, fun to be had, learning to be done, both academically and socially. Everything about this experience was positive.
Do you have any suggestions for improving the program? Anything you wish you had done better to help you during this process?
Eve: Nope, I’ve never been more pleased. The international office at Western is very professional. They helped me get into my program of choice after the deadline. They are very helpful and proactive about students’ needs and wants. I appreciate all the office did for me.