Living and working abroad comes with a lot of change, of course. Some of this – like being away from family – is fully anticipated but some of it isn’t… In fact, there are some strange, funny, and even useful consequences that I’ve experienced while on my co-op placement that I had no idea would happen. Here’s a list of some of them I’ve noticed in myself.
1. I’ve become exceptionally good at jaywalking. The driving in Ghana was hectic due to mass volume of people, especially in the cities, so walking across the road was always a struggle outside of the village and the drivers in Botswana just don’t care about pedestrians at all. On the roads, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, especially when the traffic lights (called ‘robots’ here in Southern Africa) aren’t working. Remember that it’s all about timing and, if you’re worried, just sneak across behind a more experienced jay-walker because they know what they’re doing.
2. I’ve become slightly addicted to Masterchef. In Ghana, of course, I didn’t have a television (I sometimes didn’t even have electricity) but in Botswana, I rent a room in a house and my housemum happens to love television so we have a rather fancy flatscreen plus the best access to all the good channels with DSTV Premium. One day when it was so, so hot and I didn’t want to do anything more than lie in front of the fan and not move a muscle, I searched through the channels and found Masterchef… And I’ve been addicted ever since.
3. I text message far less than I do at home. The main system here in Botswana and in most of the developing world is prepaid. You can buy credit (or ”airtime”) whenever you need it at gas stations or from street kiosks. You buy a code then punch in the code on your phone to load the credit. Because of this system, you pay for every text message. Back home, I had an unlimited texting plan so I never worried about sending a friend a ”What’s up with you?” message but nowadays a conversation over text would burn through my credit fast. So, like most people here, I buy small data bundles to have text conversations via Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp instead.
4. I always have about five pounds of change on me. In Ghana, this wasn’t a problem since there are far fewer coins than there are in the currency in Botswana. Since moving to Gaborone, though, I’ve noticed that my wallet is always heavy with coins because there are coins up to five pula here! I use public transit as my way of getting around so it’s useful to carry all this coinage but sometimes even I’ll admit it gets a little ridiculous… Like the day I counted it out and realized I had over fifty pula in my change purse. Oops!
5. Even though I told myself I would stick with it, I haven’t had a proper workout in over four months. I stretch and do some little moves in my room everyday before my shower (… my bath, actually because we don’t have a showerhead!) but I haven’t put on my runners to go for a jog in far, far too long. In Ghana, I got a lot of attention anytime I left the house, which made it embarrassing to workout outside, especially if the neighbour kids decided to chase after me as they liked to. And here in Botswana, it’s summer so it’s just far too hot during the day to even consider going outside. With these excuses, I’m just waiting until I go home to get back to it. These are just a few of the unexpected consequences – good, bad, funny, and odd – that I’ve experienced as a result of living and working abroad over the past eight or so months. Maybe if I find more, I’ll draw up another list. In the meantime, I’ll give you a quick update on my co-op placement in Botswana. I’ve only got about a week and a half left of my placement. Time sure flies and I’ve got so much to do before I leave!