Making Friends while studying abroad, the Highs and Lows

Programs for this blog post

Summer Community Public Health

Authored By:

CIEE Gaborone

Written by: Haliyat Oshodi

One of the things I told myself when coming into the CIEE Botswana program was that I didn’t want to make any close friends, which sounds weird, right? However, my reasoning was because I knew that at the end of the program, we will all be parting ways, whether on the other side of the United States or the other side of the world. Well, that idea didn’t work out because even though I’ve only been here for a couple weeks, I’ve already made so many close friends with both locals and other students in the program. But as our departing date gets closer day by day, I can’t help but think about what will happen when the program is over and if our friendships will remain the same.

One of the main things that I will tell anyone who wants to study abroad is to not come in with the same idea that I had. Having friends within the program and who are local to Botswana doesn’t only make my experience more fun, but I’m also able to share my journey with culture shock, frustrations, and what I learned in general with other people.  As I make friends with the locals, I’m able to learn more about the culture but also share part of my culture with them as well. I’m able to explore new places with other people, which doesn’t make it seem so scary anymore. Also, just having fun with my friends at the end of the week when classes are over is just super fun and a stress reliever. One of my favorite moments was just bonding at the beginning of the program. Our dorms weren’t ready yet, so we were at the UB conference center. Instead of staying in our rooms, we all hung out together on the balcony and bonded through not having electricity, long orientation days, and just being exhausted.

As we know, in just a few weeks the program will come to an end and all of us will part ways. This will be a very sad moment for all of us, and I know tears will be shed. However, what comforts me is the power of social media in bringing us all together, especially the locals. One of my advantages is it will be a little easier to meet up with my friends that are a part of the program because we all live in the United States. However, meeting up with my friends who live in Botswana won’t be as easy, but it makes me happy that we have several platforms that we can use such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Zoom that can bring us closer together when we’re far apart. I don’t know what will happen after the program because it didn’t end yet, but I do know that without these people my experience would never be as enjoyable as it is now. I’m so happy to call them my friends!