ISEP Student Stories: Katey Discusses Culture Shock in Botswana

June 19, 2013

Katey R, a psychology major from Fort Lewis College in Colorado, is wrapping up a semester at the University of Botswana in Gaborone. In this blog post, which she wrote a month into her study abroad adventure, Katey explores homesickness, culture shock, and what it means to learn and adjust to life in a new country.

Setswana phrase of the week: O tsogelie Jang? How are you doing?


Last weekend marked a milestone; I officially made it past the one month mark. I cannot believe that I am ¼ of the way done with my study abroad experience! To answer my Setswana phrase of the post; I am doing okay. Ke tsogile sentle.

New experiences are difficult for most human beings to navigate. While I feel that some areas could be going better, my experience has been absolutely positive. Positive does not necessarily mean pleasant, but it is character-building. I do not regret my choice to study abroad. I would choose Botswana again in a heartbeat.

Are there things I miss about home? Yes. I think anyone who travels to another country misses at least one aspect of their native stomping ground. At my college I was an extremely active person. I volunteered at the local preschool, served two campus organizations, participated in my own research, worked at an incredible job, danced with a fantastic group, and did not get home until 9PM most nights. At UB, clubs are hard to find. There is not a well-advertised Leadership Center like there is one at the Fort, but I think I have found a potential club contact after a month here in Bots. While it is frustrating at times, I think this has been a great experience for me. These days I go to BED between 9 or 10:30PM and get up in the morning no later than 6:15AM. After years of hoping I could be a morning person it happened — thank you Botswana! After one month I think it is safe to say that I have attempted to make it as fulfilling as possible. My accomplishments include:

  • Visiting each of the four big malls in Gaborone: River Walk (too many times), Main Mall (twice), Airport Junction (once for data collection and admiring… the targeted population is not “unemployed college student”), and Game City (once) Seeing two different areas of Botswana
  • My 1st combi ride
  • My 1st cab ride
  • My 1st bus ride
  • My 1st (AND ONLY) wild baboon sighting
  • My 1st snake sighting (dead but it still counts)
  • My 1st full greeting in Setswana
  • My 1st full blunder in Setswana

Next month I hope to see more of the surrounding area, work on more volunteer opportunities, blog about more peculiar events down here, and embrace the present while building character!

With that said, I cannot stress how grateful I am that I waited to study abroad. For me personally, traveling to another visibly developing country with 3 years of college under my belt has benefited me immensely. These factors enabled me to successfully get through culture shock.

Katey hanging out with a zebra
Katey hanging out with a zebra

Africa is not for the faint of heart, it is for growth-oriented personalities. I will be blunt; there are reasons why it costs less to study abroad in Africa as opposed to Europe. I walked in with few expectations and decided to let Africa direct my adventure. Before I left the States, several people indicated that they wanted to hear about my adventures, implying traveling. The truth is, the real adventure is in daily life as a student. After all most of my blog posts are about my crazy antics at the University! Please do not get me wrong; if I get to see the scarlet sand dunes of Namibia or feel the mist on Victoria Falls it will be a HUGE bonus. But even if my 4 months do not involve me physically touching these wonders, my time will not be in vain.

Thanks for the insight, Katey! You can check out the rest of her adventures on her blog, Mma Katey, or learn more about how to study abroad in Botswana with ISEP on our website.

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