Studying abroad can lead to both homesickness, loving travel


Batswana try to utilize all parts of the animal — a goat in this case. International students’ stomachs are having trouble adapting. 

If you don’t violently fight it off, homesickness can ruin everything. When I start to miss home, I idealize it. When something goes wrong in the present, I tend to idealize everything distant  — people, small memories, faintly familiar cities; in the moment, they are all divine and worth missing.

For example, when I first got to college and had trouble adjusting, I began to remember my high school days as golden, halcyon, perfect. The truth is that I hated high school — almost every day of it — but for some reason it seemed right to miss it when I got to college.

I can’t let myself do that now. When I start to miss home, everything here irks me; I start to feel entitled. 

I complain to myself about the heat, the food, the lack of opportunity for solitude, even the “overly-friendly” people. 

I imagine home as an air-conditioned paradise with full toilet paper holders and soap dispensers, no bugs, fast-paced classes and American accents that I can easily understand.

I think I’m homesick now because I’ve been physically sick, and a few things have been weighing on me. Saturday morning, I awoke early to security-guard radio calls and people bustling around and yelling. 

I didn’t think anything of it, because that’s pretty normal in the hostels. At all parts of the day and night, friends are always enjoying each other’s company loudly, laughing and yelling across the hallways. 

But, as I walked down the hall to use the toilet, I looked into the open door of the room next to me to see a girl’s limp legs being lifted by guards so they could put her on a stretcher.

 A few minutes later, someone began shrieking and sobbing aloud, and she didn’t stop for about an hour even though I could hear many voices trying to console her.

I still don’t know what happened. I pray that it was only some temporary physical pain, and that everything’s alright now, but that’s not what it sounded like. 

I haven’t found an RA or warden to ask, and I haven’t seen the girls that live in that room since.

I’m also a little shaken because my friend Kayla is in the hospital for stomach problems. I went to visit her yesterday and she looked pretty bad. A couple of the international kids are having the same problem. I am too, and all I’ve been eating is canned beans and bananas. Maybe it’s the heat. It’s been around 100 degrees Fahrenheit lately.

Seeing Kayla put a damper on my adventurous spirit, reminding me that I am indeed vincible and delicate. I guess it is a good reminder to keep cautious. My last source of homesickness is the fact that my phone isn’t working, so it’s been hard to talk to my family.

But apart from moments of missing the states and feeling anxious for sick people, I am having a splendid time.

I’ve made a friend who should be a five-star national Botswana tour guide. 

Though he’s grown up here, he still appreciates the nation and its culture, and he’s eager to show me every part of it.

I can’t wait to see more of Botswana, to stay with a family in a village (something I plan to do soon), to get started volunteering at a local woman’s shelter, to start school assignments, to experience baptism, a funeral, a national “futbol” game where the fans scream their heads off and throw their fists in the air with passion.