Saturday, September 29, 2012

To Do This Week

  1. Get an updated prescription for my glasses
  2. Get the yellow fever vaccination
  3. Get the prescription for the typhoid vaccination
  4. Remember to take the typhoid vaccination without messing it up
  5. Book my flight
  6. Finish filing out the visa application paperwork
  7. Make preliminary class choices
  8. Fill out the other random pages of paperwork
  9. Make photocopies of the visa applications, medical forms, school paperwork, yellow fever documents, passport, and everything else in this pile of papers
  10. Send the originals to Swaziland
  11. Start packing again, and then realize I still have several more months
  12. Work on homework :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm a wimp.

Today's the day I've been dreading for a very, very long time, for a very, very silly reason. It's vaccination day...

To go live in Africa for two years, there's a whole slew of vaccines that I need - most of which are things you don't need vaccines for in America. There's a whole wonderful list in the paperwork I have to send in, and it's much longer than I wish.

Here's the thing: I hate shots. I hate shots more than anything. I like to think of myself as a rather brave person, but I hate shots. They freak me out so, so much. It's not the pain, and it's not the idea that something is going inside my skin - I have the piercings to prove that those things don't bother me. It's completely irrational, but I still hate shots. Oh, so, much.

But, it's kind of a requirement (for my own good, I know) when getting ready to live in Africa, so I'll deal with it.

Eek. Since I found out I was going to Swaziland, this is the first thing I've been nervous about! This is so pathetic...

UPDATE: Didn't have to get any shots... today. Just made another appointment with the travel doctor to get them, because my normal doctor didn't have a single one available. So happy! I'll deal with this later... :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

College Plans and Internet Memes

I keep on getting asked about my college plans. Logical, seeing as how I'm a senior in high school, and should be applying to college and all that fun stuff.

Except I'm moving to Africa. And that tends to confuse people.

Anyways, UWC students have started a rather wonderful Facebook page called "UWC Memes," which put almost every UWC dilemma into a quick, easy, oftentimes grammatically incorrect, internet-friendly meme. Here are two that pretty much sum up my current predicament:

I'm getting really antsy, especially as I keep seeing photos from my friends from the interviews, several of whom also were accepted and are first years at the various campuses. Swaziland is the only campus that doesn't start on the northern hemisphere school schedule, which means I'm one of two US students still waiting to start. Can we go already? :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kids and the World

I'm currently working five days a week as a babysitter for a seven year old boy. He's a really wonderful, intelligent kid, but sometimes it shocks me just how little he knows about anything beyond our little town. I'm sure that I used to be the same way, but it's still strange.

For example, he asked where I got my wallet, and I said that I bought it while I was studying in Jordan. I figured he didn't know where Jordan was, but I was really surprised that he didn't know where the Middle East was either. I get that that's a little specific, but I definitely knew where the Middle East was when I was that age. I used to have a sticker book with outline maps of the world, and I colored the Red Sea... red. With a colored pencil. But regardless, I knew where the Middle East was. I'm a pretty big geography geek though, so I'm probably not a good benchmark.

Talking to him just made me really grateful for opportunities for travel I had at such a young age. We never went in luxury vacations when I was a kid, but no matter how much I moaned about it then, it's nice to think of all the places I set up a tent when I was a kid - mostly national parks, but I still had that chance to go across the States traveling. He said that he had only been to California, which is wonderful, but it made me think about all the places I've been able to go to, and made me so thankful.

Finally, he was telling me about the second language he spoke. I got all excited, until he told me it was a burp language... Cute, but not exactly what I was hoping. I just realized that I've been able to speak two languages since I was twelve years old, and even though that makes it only five years, it feels like knowing a second language is a given for me. He's only seven, but it's strange to think that at that age, most kids, including myself, haven't started studying a foreign language. Would it do them any good? Maybe knowing a second language longer would make kids want to learn more about the world...

These are the things I think about as I do the dishes and clean this apartment while the kids sleep in their room. I love this job, but I have to say, I hope Barbie storybooks aren't a thing in swaziland :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

One Shared Experience

So, I follow several blogs of current/graduated UWC students, and one of the most artistically talented and eloquent is yellowcircles on Tumblr, a graduate of Mahindra UWC in India. Recently, he (she?) made a post that read like this:

"I recently read a book by Suketu Meheta who says that each person’s life is dominated by a central event, which shapes and distorts everything that comes after it and, in retrospect, everything that came before. MUWCI for me will always take that place; because there is no place like it.

As cliche as it sounds, it’s funny how the people and the places that seem strange in the beginning turn out to be the ones you call “Family”. One moment you can’t help but fall asleep in class due to a prolonged caffeinated night, the other you wish you were better prepared for tomorrows I.B. exam.

Here is a video I made (shot and edited) for my high school farewell, with all the people that matter to me the most in it. Sometimes in my solitude this is the only thing that comforts me. For that one moment in time I feel I am back home."

Reading that, it occurred to me that I would most definitely be in a similar position in two years, four months time from now, graduating from a place I've never even been to yet. That's the strange part about all of these schools - it's such a unique concept to people here, that they can't even imagine it. And yet, it's such a shared experience among UWC 'people,' past, present, or future, that it ceases to be unique in and of itself. Wonderful, yes, but entirely unique? Not really.

Following the post was a link to this video, which I have to say is most definitely my favorite video about any UWC I've seen so far on the internet. I can see the faces of every group I've ever had to say goodbye to in this video, as if my NSLI-Y group, or the other camp counselors. It's probably the first video I've seen to show how much the school means to him - and it's fascinating because it's so blunt. There are no words, no commentary, no "I love my UWC family because..." It's just a lot of faces. Faces that mean so very little to me, but I can tell mean the world to them. I just wanted to share the video, because it's such a wonderful piece, and one of very few I've found that draws any emotion whatsoever.

Also, I know that in two years, I'll be in a video like that, looking back upon the "grand adventure." We'll see whether Meheta was actually right, whether life will really be defined by one grand event, and whether UWC will be that event.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Packing - Early, I know...

First of all, I know I don't leave for another four months. But I'm still starting to pack and move out now. To be honest, it might take four months.


First thing - I highly suggest just giving your stuff away, if you've never done it. I don't mean a small box, I mean garbage bags upon garbage bags full of clothes, toys, books, and everything. Just give it away. It feels so good.

Second thing - At least this sort of packing, it's pack, donate, or trash. There is no "keep for when I get back" pile, which makes packing harder. Although not that hard - refer back to item one :)

Third thing - Still can't wait four months... I'm so restless!

Oh well, I told myself I couldn't pack anymore until my homework is done... so, I should go do that.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


When at the interview for the UWCs, they kept referring to it as a 'UWC family,' and I laughed it off as some hippies, but it's totally true. I wasn't the only person from my interview to be accepted to the UWCs - there were several others, including one who is currently in Wales, one currently in Bosnia, one currently in India, and several currently in New Mexico, starting their UWC adventures.

Notice how I said "currently." They're all at the UWCs... NOW! And I'm only kind of having some serious jealously over this fact. Waterford Kamhlaba is the only UWC to start on the southern hemisphere school schedule - the other TWELVE UWCs are having their first days of school sometime about now. Which means that my one co-year, a guy from Pennsylvania, and myself are the only two UWCers left here in the States, waiting for our turn.

A little bit frustrating... although I keep being reminded "You were the one who put Swaziland as your first choice." And I have no regrets on that front - I literally feel like I'm living the dream, or at least, I will be, in four months. Swaziland has always been my first choice out of the UWCs, and it's amazing that I was actually placed there, but these four months are the hardest as far as waiting goes, simply because I know that most of my UWC family is already in session.

I hope they're all having a wonderful time though! I'm only jokingly frustrated about the wait - it's totally worth it :)