Recap and Preparation
Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
33Trip End Jul 17, 2013
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Where I stayed
What I did
ArborLinks Golf Course
I've gotten plenty of mixed reviews when discussing my African endeavor. All are one extreme or another (envy/excitement or concern). I remember when I was asked while interviewing for a scholarship that had a study abroad stipend, "If you get this scholarship, where would you like to study abroad?" Without hesitation I responded that I wanted to travel to South Africa and that I wanted to go on a safari and help underprivileged citizens. Namibia isn't quite South Africa, but the experience that it provides is all the same and less touristy, so it is preferred. At that time it was a just a travel dream.
This past January while attending the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics at UNL, I learned about a new and booming field called mathematical biology, and my interest was spiked. After some self exploration, I decided that my dream job would be to combat poaching, both directly and indirectly, in Africa by studying African elephants and/or rhinos and bringing awareness to various African communities and tribes.
I may be crazy, but I'm not insane, so I have decided that instead of just up and moving to Africa, a brief visit highlighting exposure to various species and civilians will help determine whether my career dream is really a good fit or if I should think about something else. It's now or never!
The painful process (literally...)
Thinking I was a big, bad study abroad veteran (traveled to Germany and Poland last year with a class), I just knew that this Africa business would be a piece of cake for a pro like myself. Let's just say having a professor who has been to the countries and will be in attendance for the trip makes a world of a difference, even in just the preparation... not to mention attending a study abroad experience that was organized through one's school of attendance helps a ton as well. BUT FINALLY all of the money was passed through multiple hands, the trip was officially paid for (I think anyway, haven't really gotten the confirmation... see what I mean?), and my stay was finalized (again, I think). Quickly I learned that this trip is going to provide more challenges than I thought possible, and, although I am a travel junkie, I have yet to establish guru status.
While all of this behind the scenes business took place, I was busy preparing my body for this trip. First shot was a Yellow Fever vaccine. About a week later, I visited a travel health clinic in Johnson County, KS (I highly recommend forking over the $45-75 for the consultation!!). The wonderful lady informed me of the bug repellant recommended for the areas I will be in, what kind of clothes to wear (absolutely nothing blue), and all of the shots that I should take "just in case". So, then came Hepatitis A and Tetanus in conjunction with a round of live-virus Typhoid vaccination pills and Malaria pills. After choosing the pills that might cause vivid nightmares from of two other types of (much more expensive) Malaria medications, I can only distinctly remember one extremely vivid dream so far: Park University serving only chocolate, various types of candy, and ice cream on Valentine's Day... If these pills make me taste chocolate every time I wake up, I may have to go to Africa more often. ;-)
Once I arrive in Windhoek for my study abroad portion, I will stay a day or so near the Polytechnic of Namibia (the host university), and then I will be transported to N/a'an ku sÍ, which focuses on "supporting African wildlife" and "supporting the San community". I have been told that I will be working with lions, cheetahs, leopards, gorillas, hyenas, and other endangered animals (primarily carnivores). Since it is "winter" during my trip, temperatures will range (in Fahrenheit) from mid 80's to low 40's daily. I will then spend my last day or two back at the university.
Once my study abroad portion of my trip is complete, I will fly to Zimbabwe and spend two nights at Victoria Falls in the A'Zambezi River Lodge before returning back to the good ol' US of A. I have not decided officially on what activities I will participate in while I am there, but I have narrowed down the list a little bit. I plan to see what I experience while I'm in Namibia for a week or so before I book any touristy excursions in VF. Because I want to work with animals and it does not appear that N/a'an ku sÍ has elephants in the vicinity, I assume that all of my endeavors in VF will be centered on experiencing such animals. Some of my thoughts include taking a safari on elephant-back, crossing into Botswana for an all-day river and automobile safari on a refuge with a large concentration of elephants, taking a safari on horseback, and taking a night safari. I would like to have time to also take an official tour of the Falls, but we will see how much time I have after I book what needs to be preplanned.
Stay tuned for more updates...