- Canadian Student Experiences Botswana
Over 12000km away from his Sudbury home in Canada, Aaron Brubacher, 20 was on a student exchange programme which brought him to Gaborone’s University of Botswana (UB), where he studied since August.
Three months into his stay, the third year Computer Science student said that despite having integrated into his community, he still felt different and was often reminded that he was different. “In a sense, yes, I could be said to be a legal alien.
There are plenty of white people around but you still know that you are different and people notice that you are a foreigner in their land,” said Brubacher clad in an “I am Canadian” t-shirt.
Despite numerous choices of destinations, Brubacher picked Africa. “I knew I wanted to go somewhere exotic and different from my home culture.
I had been to Europe and knew it would be different but not as different as a place like Africa,” Brubacher said. Although he had never been to Africa before, his life could be said to have started in the continent. “My parents actually met in Kenya. They were doing some volunteer work back then,” he says. Over two decades following his parents encounter in Kenya, Brubacher made a return to where it all began, or at least thousands kilometres south of it, to make Gaborone his home for about four months.
According to Brubacher, he got the different experience he wanted, for example eating Mophane worms, and commuting in Gaborone combis. Of the worms he remarked: “I think I just had one Mophane worm and could not stomach it any more.” As for the combis, Brubacher admits that although the transport system in Botswana is efficient, being cramped into combis was a culture shock. “I have been in crowded vehicles before but not as a normal form of public transport,” he shared.
Away from the worms and combis, Brubacher was pleasantly taken aback by how people this side of the world interact. “They are definitely a lot of fun to be around, happy people, and I like that,” he says. Responding to the list of ‘white men wanted’ on The Voice’s Lets Get Personal page, Brubacher retorted with a chuckle: “That is something I didn’t notice so much. I feel like the women here are less forward than the men.
I got a lot of local guys asking me to introduce them to other female exchange students and stuff like that.” Despite scores of local ladies to pick from, the single Canadian lad said he didn’t start any romantic fires, although he
attests to the local women’s attractiveness. “There are definitely a lot of attractive women here.” he said
Just like his parents had volunteered in Kenya, Brubacher was involved in volunteer work through a UB student club- Tshwaraganang Charitable Society which took him along to spend a day with children at a Gabane home based care facility. Doing charity work led the 20- year -old to discover people in Botswana like to get down to music.
“I just love how people love music and dancing, and just how free they are. I love music and stuff.”
Commenting on a get together event he attended, the young Canadian said, “That was fun although it was also a bit of a stretch for me because I am not entirely confident in dancing,especially being the only white guy at a party in a new place. But it was a great experience.”
Despite his love for the country and the people, a couple of things bothered this self-described “go-getter.” He was mostly worried about the level of productivity in general. If it is not the lecturers not pitching for class, it is long queues to get services like at the refectory, says Brubacher before reaching the conclusion: “I guess people here look at time differently.”
All things taken into consideration, Brubacher says he wouldn’t really make Botswana his home, not because he hates it but because he loves Canada more. As this goes to print Brubacher will be airborne and ready to get reunited with his parents and seven younger siblings.