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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Things we take for granted

How quickly I forget. This is my third time to Uganda and each time I am reminded of what we easily take for granted. Let me give you a few examples:
*stoplights and center lines
*full pressure hot water
*a tall, cold glass of milk with Cinnamon Toast Crunch
But what I exchange for those is so much more in return:
* the hug of a friend I have not seen for a year
* Max and Harriet, the goats, as well as chickens in the yard, a cat with three legs and Jimmy the 'guard' dog that greets us when we come in the gate
*and perhaps most importantly, the look of wonderment in the eyes of the students.
What has replaced the little things you are missing from home?


  1. Euchre! And the quick friendships that are coming along so easily.

  2. Yes, we definitely take our stoplights and traffic control for granted, but the lack of these makes Uganda all the more exciting, for better or worse. I feel like such a little kid as I look outside the window in wonderment, wondering why there aren't more traffic accidents as motor scooters (boda bodas) speed through congested traffic, narrowly avoiding pedestrians on the side of the road.

    My three cats at home have been replaced by a three-legged diseased devil feline that sits outside our cottage. It already snuck into the cottage once...we try not to be nice to it but it stays around anyway. What unconditional

    Best of all, my surrogate best friends here at MUBS are the greatest! Not that I don't miss my friends at home, but it's great to have people here that are so hospitable, sweet and just as inquisitive as we are. I think we all feel at home to some degree, even though we're on the other side of the world, and that's a true blessing!

  3. I agree with all these, yea for Euchre! And all my new friends who are patient with me for my lack of skill.

  4. The biggest thing I'm missing is the ability to long distant communicate. I am a blackberry addict and missing it is making handle somethings pretty difficult.

    Other than that though this place is not too bad. The Red Chili is a great resort really just a cool, bizarre, relaxed, bouhemian environment. The beds are soft, the mosiqueto nets make me feel safer than I have ever felt before asleep, and there is plenty of great food. The cleanliness issue is worrying me a little bit but so far it hasn't really been much of an issue. The whole place is just so beautiful it is hard to worry.

  5. As the others have stated, we take so much for granted in the United States and I will appreciate our culture so much more when I return. The thing that always irritated me was unable to understand foreignors in America, and especially at Drake. But, now being here in Africa where I am the minority, I appreciate the MUBS students patience so much and will take that patience back with me.

  6. I think the thing I miss most is having water. When at home I constantly have my nalgene with me and am filling it up 5 to 6 times a day at a drinking fountain. Here I have to use wter very wisely. I am getting better and using as little as possible when brushing my teeth. The driving is also pretty frightening at times.. and bumpy. I figure that we are in a bus though so if we do crash we will all probably live :)

  7. Though we are all missing friends and family, I think that we have created a family among ourselves, including the MUBS students. Our hosts are very warm and welcoming, and rather interested in many aspects of our culture. I do miss a good classic American burger, but the breakfast here has been great, especially the fresh fruit.

  8. So far I don't really miss anything too much. Obviously there are a few luxuries that we don't have, but I feel like thats a small price to pay to go to a place like this.

  9. I agree with these things we take for granted. We spend so much time in our comfort zone and take these experiences as normal because we always have them. I definitely take the traffic rules and lights in the US for granted. Here, traffic seems so busy and kind of scary. I also realize how much I take the availability of healthy water for granted. Here, brushing our teeth with bottled water is more complicated and hard to remember... I definitely miss my cell phone and being able to call anyone whenever I want to. This lack of communication reiterates how I take the effective and fast ability to communicate in the US for granted.

    Besides the little feelings of homesickness, missing my mom, dad, brother, friends, my puppies, and the little experiences we take for granted here, they are worth it in the end. I expect these experiences in Uganda to be life-changing. It is great to meet friends from a different culture. Anything that makes us more global citizens is important and great for our understanding of the whole world.

  10. Things that I miss or have taken for granted: the ability to brush my teeth with water from the faucet; being able to run down to the grocery store or the C store and buy a granola bar or some gummy bears when I want a snack; high speed internet in my apartment; street lights at night; and the luxury of going anywhere to eat and being able to order any kind of food or drink (a glass of water) without trying to remember what the Polk County health department told us we shouldn't consume.

    What has replaced those things: all of the fun new experiences like the tombs, the Christian shrine, Parliament, the Owino market, and the Buganda culture in Kampala; the new people we have befriended; there being so many people outside at all times; the random animals at Red Chilli; the warm weather; and, of course, the new hairdo:)

    Something that is a really different experience for me here- that I think most of the other Drake students will resonate with- is the feeling of being a total outcast in society. I have never been stared at and pointed at so much in my life. I am not offended or anything- it's just different. I also think it's so strange that people here will point at us and say "white person!". I imagine myself in my small rural Iowa town, which is about 99% white, with people pointing and saying "black person!" when one walks through town.. it makes me laugh haha.. That just doesn't happen.

  11. Rachel - it is interesting to me that you brought up the topic of people staring becuase of skin color. It is more fascinating that you say it doesn's happen the opposite way at home. As a Black person in America (in Iowa, the fourth Whitest state) I can assure you that people do stare (probably because of skin color, but since the people don't call out "black person" when I pass I can only go off what I see and feel). In fact, that is one of the issues I have with Drake. People stare at me when I was pass by or when I'm around. The highschool I attended is about half the size of Drake undergrad with maybe four times as many Blacks. So in highschool, I didn't have that problem so much. But I did see it when I went into the small (dominantly White) towns in rural Iowa. And now at Drake, where I live and go to school, people stare. All the way up to the end of the year I got sideways glances when I passed--especially after dark (as if I was suspicious). And like you said, it's not always offending, but it can make you feel like an outcast... only you are are visiting where it happens to you, and I live in the place where it happens to me.

  12. But as for things I take for granted, the lack of clean air has had the biggest affect on me. We travel in this big blue charter bus with no air. It gets so hot inside that I can barely breathe, so I open the window. But the air outside is so full of dust and diesel exhaust it burns my throat and nasal cavaties. Other than that, I kindof like it here.