Choosing where you will be living for the next four months of your life is a very important decision but it was one that was a no brainer for me. When I decided to go to Botswana for my semester abroad, I knew that I wanted to get fully immersed into the culture and really experience something different than my own. In order to keep with that ideal, I immediately chose to do the homestay option for my housing. Once I had chosen that, the CIEE Director sent me a questionnaire to gauge my preferences regarding things like age of siblings, whether or not they have pets and various other things. A few weeks before departure, you are then assigned a family based on this questionnaire and you will have some time to communicate with them before you arrive in Gaborone.
While I was slightly nervous before I left, this turned out to be one of the best decisions I made regarding this program. My host family picked me up from the airport and has been so wonderful and caring for the duration of my stay. As the program nears a close, I know that I will really miss them. With all choices, there are pros and cons but in this case it is mostly pros.
- Your host family will help you get acclimated to the city. During the first week, they taught and showed me many things. My host brother taught me how to use the public transportation system to get to school and he took me on a sunrise hike to the top of Kgale Hill. My family also drove me around the city and took me to the Gaborone Game Reserve where we saw ostriches, zebras, impalas and warthogs.
- You will get to eat authentic and home cooked food. Your host family will cook dinner for you every night and will provide you with food for breakfast and maybe lunch. They will make you traditional foods like samp and merogo in addition to lots of meat. You will also get to cook them your favorite American foods so make sure to remember your recipes.
- It allows you to be more independent. Every day you will get to leave campus and go home to your family. This allows you to experience more parts of the city and get out of the campus bubble.
- Your host family will be a wonderful support system. This is so nice when you are just getting to a new city and have no idea what to do. If you need to go to the grocery store or if you get sick, they can drive you around and they will know what to do. It is helpful to have someone who is concerned and looking out for you.
- You will be far away from your friends. This can make hanging out very difficult because you will need to call Bethel (our trusty taxi driver) and then actually get there. Then you will need to call him again to get home. The taxi rides are only 30 pula (about 3 dollars) but it can take a lot of time and effort to get around the city. Compared to living in the dorms where you can just walk to your friend's room.
Overall, my homestay experience has been amazing and I highly suggest that you choose this option for your housing in Gaborone.