The University of Iowa

A farewell reflection: Haley's top three

May 9th, 2014
group of students in zimbabwe
Over spring break, we got a chance to travel in Zimbabwe!

By Haley Church

Three Reasons I will miss Botswana:

1)     Adventure and travel: Weekends in Botswana have been filled with new and exciting places, foods and activities. Compared to the U.S., traveling around Southern Africa is inexpensive and not as difficult as you might think. Buses are very easy to find and generally pretty reliable. I will really miss hopping on a bus and being in another country in a matter of hours.

2)     The people: The people of Botswana have been quite friendly and welcoming. They are usually curious about where I am from and how I like their country. It has been great getting to know locals in my classes and around my residence hall. I will also miss the other international students. Studying abroad is a weird experience that has a way of creating incredibly tight bonds in a very short period of time. Even though I met these people just five months ago, I feel really close to them.

group of people outside a shop in Zimbabwe
We made friends with some of the local vendors

3)     Lack of predictability: Out of everything I have learned here, the biggest lesson is to just roll with it. I’m generally what you would call a “chill person.” Botswana has only made me more so. Just when you think you have things figured out, this country will throw a curve ball. There have been countless situations that I just had to stand back and laugh at. Even though some experiences weren’t funny right away, they made me grow as a person. I have missed buses, slept outside in the African bush, and been kept awake be political rallies until 3 in the morning. These adventures keep life fresh and me on my toes. I will miss that.

Three Reasons I’m excited to return to the States:

1)     Efficiency: Many things in Botswana, and the rest of Africa that I have seen, take a considerably longer period of time to accomplish than they do in the U.S. Nearly everything takes longer, actually- checking out at the grocery story, going to the bank, getting food, going to the post office, or anything that has to do with the university will all take almost double the amount of time I could accomplish it in back home. I can’t wait to use a speedy check-out at the grocery store or a drive-thru at the bank. No more 45 minute waits to get stamps.

two girls in hostel in Zimbabwe
We were very excited that our hostel in Zimbabwe had a kitchen!

2)     Food: There is something about familiar food that just makes you more comfortable. The food in Botswana has been fine. There are some things that I really enjoy and some things that I avoid. However, I am excited to be able to use an oven, stove, and refrigerator again. Also, to be able to make sandwiches. I love sandwiches. They are sometimes available here in limited varieties but nothing like a sub from Jimmy Johns or even a turkey sandwich made at home. But mostly I am pumped to not eat most of my meals from a can. We are not allowed to have any sort of heating device and I don’t have a refrigerator so right now canned meals are about as good as it gets for quick food! Home-cooked food will be heaven.

3)     FAMILY and FRIENDS: As much as I love my new friends here, it will be nice to be with my old crowd again. They understand right away when I am being sarcastic and never take anything I say literally. They will listen to every rambling story about Botswana that I will tell and pretend to care. They are the biggest reason I am excited to be going back home. 

Study Abroad blogger Haley Church is a sophomore majoring in Interdepartmental Sciences and Pre-Medicine. She is currently studying abroad for a semester in Gaborone, Botswana through ISEP. To see more photos of Haley's adventures, visit here.

Are you a student currently studying abroad? Interested in blogging for us or contributing one of your blog entries? Contact to learn how!