Dumelang! (Hello!) Ke bidiwa Hannah. Ke ithuta Setswana le Public Health mo Botswana. (My name is Hannah. I am studying Setswana and Public Health in Botswana.) This past summer I also studied public and community health in Gaborone, Botswana for two months. I learned so much about how a developing country differs from a developed country, southern African culture and traditions, and a universal healthcare system where citizens have completely free healthcare. I observed in clinics in urban and rural settings, toured public and private hospitals, and spent some time at
the only mental hospital in the country.

I also had the opportunity to take three classes at the University of Botswana: Community and Public Health Practicum, Setswana Language and Culture, and Pre-Professional Healthcare Issues in Botswana. I learned conversational Setswana, and I learned how to function in a culture that is so different from my own. In addition to traveling across Botswana, I also traveled across southern Africa to Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. I even got to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world: Victoria Falls! I rode an ATV through the desert in Namibia, saw elephants in
their natural environment, went on a safari ride in Chobe, Botswana where I saw white rhinos, impalas, and giraffes, and bribed our way across the Zimbabwean border for one day to see Victoria Falls.

I never thought I would have the chance to go somewhere where you would see ostriches and elephants on the side of the road the way we see deer in Tennessee. I had the chance to go to a rural village and observe in clinics, see five weddings happen at the tribe’s kgotla, and the chief tried to marry me to his son (who happened to be my host uncle!). I saw the most vibrant sunrises and sunsets, took local transportation successfully, and ate many traditional meals full of meat and maize.

I made many local friends, and they showed us the best places to eat, shop, study, and go out at night! Botswana will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I cannot wait to go back and visit my new friends. This was my happiest summer, and I conquered my fear of going to a developing country and further realized my dream of being a nurse internationally.

Hannah Smith is majoring in  Nursing and studied abroad in Summer 2019 in Gaborone, Botswana with CIEE (Hannah did the Summer Community Public Health program). Hannah had the following to say about studying abroad, “Adventure is waiting. Go somewhere off the beaten path and challenge yourself. Botswana was one of the most beautiful places on earth!”

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