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The Summer Dorm Experience








Post by Brett Solfermoser from Truman State University

Hey, everyone! I have a research paper due tomorrow, so naturally I’m procrastinating by writing this blog post. A lot of you have been asking about my living conditions here in Botswana, and I can happily confirm that they’re not too different from what can be found in the States. (Yes – I have access to a real shower!) When applying to the CIEE Community Public Health Program, I was presented with two choices: homestay or dorm. With the homestays, you live in a house that is about 30 minutes away from the University of Botswana campus. With the dorms, you live in a flat for graduate students with five other people. This was a pretty big decision, as it affected the entire two months spent here, so naturally I made a pros and cons list. (Shout-out to my Dad for teaching me his ways!)





  • Meals are prepared for you by your host mother. #score
  • You are immersed in the culture of Botswana and get the full experience.
  • You get a brand new family! (Added bonus if you don’t like your real family!) [Don’t worry, Mom and Dad – I don’t fall in that category.]
  • If you’re a picky eater (which is a massive understatement for me), traditional meals could potentially be incredibly awkward situations.
  • 30+ minutes away from campus is kind of a hassle. (“Kind of” being another understatement.)
  • You could potentially miss out on bonding with other CIEE students who hang out together on campus.


  • You get to live right next to campus, and can get to class in less than 10 minutes.
  • You get to meet graduate students from the University of Botswana, as well as international students.
  • Other students in the program often hang out in the dorm rooms after class.
  • You have to cook for yourself. (Lotttttts of peanut butter & jelly, folks.)
  • You miss out on the warmth of having a family to keep you company and make sure you’re safe.

In the end, I decided to stay in the dorm, because I wanted to have ease of access to shops, classes, and Mass at the nearby cathedral. Now, without further ado, it’s time for a brief photo tour of my flat/room!

In the graduate residential area, colloquially called GradVille or 417, there are seven apartment buildings (A-G), which each contain a number of flats. Outside each complex there are drying poles where you can hang wet clothes up to dry.

Image8417E: my humble abode!

Inside each complex, there are two flats per floor (of which I believe there are three). Each flat is fully equipped with a bathroom, shower, refrigerator, kitchen, table/chairs, and a couch. 








Bathroom, with sink and toilet. 

(Pro-tip: bring your own toilet paper.)









Shower, with extra sink not shown.

(Shower shoes recommended!)

Image8Fully-stocked kitchen is always a plus!








Shared area between the six flatmates

As I mentioned earlier, there are six people per flat, each with their own, individual room. The door handles of each room allow for a lock to be placed, which is strongly recommended. Generally, the other members of each flat are trustworthy, but sometimes the door to the flat is left open and other people may wander inside. Inside each room there is a bed, closet, and desk.

Image8Desk, with Ethernet and AC sockets. Above shelf provides
organizational means to serve all your obsessive-compulsive needs.









Spacious closet, with shelves and a rod to hang clothes.
(You know, because you couldn't just see that in the picture.)










The bed at first looks a little ... cot-like, but it really is actually comfortable!

There is also a service that washes your sheets biweekly, so that's a perk.

So far, my experience in the dorm has been great, despite a few inconveniences along the way (e.g. no hot water for a few days). It's really not too much different from the houses and apartments back in K-Vegas (a.k.a. Kirksville; a.k.a. my college town). All in all, I'm pleased with my decision to stay in the dorms. They're cozy, convenient, close to classes (#accidentalalliteration), and I'm looking forward to the many weeks to come in 417E2!


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