Thursday, April 4, 2013

We're Gonna Make This Place (Country?) Your Home

Something that has occurred to me in probably the last two or three weeks of being here is that people live here. I know that sounds obvious and silly, but when you go somewhere “exotic,” sometimes the normalcies of everyday life seem like they can’t possibly exist.

I spent Easter break at my link grandma’s house (think house family). The best way I can put it was that it was normal. In a really good way, it was a break from school. No matter how much I love Waterford, it’s full of chaos, and sometimes can get really exhausting. Also, dorm rooms will never be houses, and while dorms are fun, they’re not a “home.” On that side, spending a few days in a “home” was really, really nice. And my link grandma and I get along really well. Sometimes, staying in a host family situation can be awkward, but we just get along really well, and I literally felt entirely at home within four or five hours of being there.

On the other hand, it was bizarre, because I realized that normal things happen when you live somewhere, no matter where. We had to run errands in town, and decide what to cook for dinner, and wash dishes, and lock the doors at night, and feed the dogs, and so on and so forth. After dinner, we watched some program about monkeys on TV, and then read for a while. We walked the dogs. We went to one of her friend’s houses for dinner. It was all fine and well, but I was surprised at how strange it felt to be doing such normal, familiar things in what I had previously considered a really foreign, exotic country. I mean, the country hasn’t changed, but I can’t even imagine myself describing Swaziland as foreign or exotic right now.

Now, the problem with all of this is that it makes me wonder, why in the world did I come to Swaziland anyways? I could be accepted into university already! Why am I here, especially realizing that life here isn’t all that different from life in the States, or life anywhere, for that matter! For a while, I really thought this. But then, I realized that it’s similar only on the superficial level. Sure, dishes need to be washed in America just the same as they do in Swaziland, but they’re washed after a different sort of meal, where there was different conversation, and a different sort of etiquette, as was influenced by a different sort of culture. Sure, some things are the same, but a lot of things are different, and I’m thankful that I get to make the “different” my “everyday.” I spent my morning going to classes, just like I would have done in the States, but then I spent my afternoon teaching computer classes to orphans, tutoring a junior student in French, and presenting about American culture to an audience consisting of people from seven or eight other nations.
I mean, maybe things aren’t that different in some ways, but it’s just lazy to pretend that they’re not that different in all ways, because they are, and if you don’t go somewhere to see the differences, and live with the differences, then something’s missing. I have a hard time articulating exactly why I’m happy with my choice to come to Swaziland, but I am, and now that Swaziland suddenly feels like home, I’m having a very bizarre combination of loving the fact that Swaziland, of all places, is home, and feeling like I want to go on an adventure and get out of Swaziland.

So, guys, newsflash: people actually live in Swaziland. They have normal lives. They do normal things.

So, self, newsflash: I live in Swaziland, and it feels entirely normal and entirely abnormal, all at once. I figure I'll have this sorted out right about the time I graduate and have to leave... figures.


  1. Hey Diana! I'm Lise, one of the Norwegians accepted into Waterford from January '14. I just wanted to leave a comment here to let you know that I just read about half of your blog, and it's really awesome! Now I know what to read when I need a blog to "live through" before I go :) Keep posting, and then I guess we'll see each other in about 9 months - I can't wait!
    - Lise Andrea Arge

  2. Hi Diana!
    my name is Agnese and I'm a passionate fan of your blog. In two weeks I'll have the second stage of the UWC selections here in Italy, but I don't know how to preapare myself, as we don't debate at school. What do you think I should do?
    Thank you sincerely
    Agnese Lerda