I am Krista and am studying at the University of Botswana this semester. I arrived in Gaborone, Botswana six days ago, and the first thing you notice is the heat! It is very hot here, but the morning and evenings are very nice. An interesting thing that is very common here is people walking around with umbrellas. People walk with an umbrella to block the sun and create some shade for themselves – what an awesome idea! The biggest thing in Botswana though, are greetings. The way people greet each other in this country is by saying “Dumela mma” (hello m’am) or “Dumela rra” (hello sir) and you shake hands. They have all kinds of cool handshakes, especially the men. Now, each person does not greet everyone he or she meets on the street, though it is common to do so before you ask for directions or order food, or they will not be very friendly. On Hope’s campus we have a similar culture of greeting strangers, but greetings here are shown as a sign of respect which is very important in Botswana’s culture.
I am also a white girl in an African country which makes me stand out and many people stare, but I have noticed that once I say “Dumela” they say hi and smile. The people are friendly and are curious why we are in their country. I have also learned that they do not have an equivalent of “You are welcome” which is very strange to me. They only say “ok,” or they reply with a “thank you.” I keep finding little interesting differences between Botswana and America, but they are also similar in many ways. There are several malls in Gaborone and they are very similar to American malls. Batswana watch American movies, and some American soap operas. They listen to much of the same music as Americans. Overall, Botswana is great, and I am very excited for the semester to start next week! And this is the group from America that I came with through CIEE!