Thursday, May 28, 2009

Flickr News

To anyone still tuned it: I won't be using this blog address anymore, but I hope that at some point I am able to dream up enough interesting material while in the United States to keep a blog again. In the mean time though, I plan on regularly updating Flickr with pictures I take around the Midwest... Mostly while hiking, and there will be plenty of plants. If you're interested, tune in to Flickr for now!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Anyone reading anymore?

It has been a very long time since I've posted. Honestly, in these last two weeks, all I've done is my schoolwork and some errands. I went out a couple times to take my mind off things, but wow, it was mostly school work.

I finished my research paper, thank goodness. It was 52 pages long, and when it was bound like a little book, I felt so proud. (I'll post a short version of my findings in a little bit.) It was an entire semester of work. Interviews, focus groups, surveys, literature, and WRITING. It could have been better, of course. There were time limits, financial limits, etc. But I did the best I could given my circumstances. I'm hoping when I get back to the US that I can edit it and possibly use it for my senior thesis somehow.

I'm currently in the London airport. It breaks my heart a little bit to leave Kenya. I know it has to happen, and I'm ready for it. I did my year abroad, I miss home... But still, this experience is over. Life was so exciting, always adventurous, but also so relaxed. I already miss Kisumu. I had to try so hard not to cry (extremely inappropriate in Luo culture), but that family loved me and I loved them. They took such good care of me, and as much as they could, treated me like I was a member of their own family. It was a very authentic relationships, and we learned a lot from each other. I can't help but hope that I can go back to see them.

I was always closer with my Kisumu family, but it hurt to leave my Nairobi family too. While they had some very different beliefs than me (such as listening to the radio allllllll night), they also always looked out for me and just cared about my safety. They paid attention to my likes and dislikes and wanted to see that I was comfortable.

As I mentioned, it's the sense of adventure that I'll miss. There are so many interesting places to travel here, little things to do... I don't know how I can adapt to a more routine life. But I think I'll try mountain biking, and more skiing in the winter. Life should be enjoyable and interesting.

In short, my abroad experience was good. The program I'm with, MSID, had some serious issues. The academic aspect was extremely lacking, but I read so many books on my own that I learned a lot anyway. Plus, how could you not learn when you're living in Kenya for almost a year? I can see my flaws so clearly now. I don't know if I'm any closer to being a completely laid back person, but at least I am self-aware enough to know that I have work to do.

The London airport feels weird. Part of the reason that it feels weird is that it's so natural. But I'm very aware of everything. As soon as we got into the airport people were rushing me. I wanted to tell them to slow down, no rush! We're all going to end up in the same place! Somehow I don't think this mentality will really fit in the hyper-drive US. Caution: I may be a little lazy, or annoyingly late.
There are also a TON of shops here. And there are things I want to buy. American consumerism never really leaves you, does it? There are stores with cute clothes, Clinique make-up, and lots of books. I'll try to hold back.

So I'll be home by evening on Sunday, as long as the flights go as planned. How crazy will that be, to walk into my house, see my cats, lay on a bed with PILLOWS......Oh my god. Pillows and running water. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, April 17, 2009


There are more in my laptop. I'm pissed. Chemicals will be used.

In other news... I'm back in Nairobi and out of Kisumu for good, unfortunately. I really loved that host family and enjoyed the city as well. But now all I have left to do is write my research paper (no small task) and then I can go home next Saturday.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I'm still alive!

Sorry for not updating much everybody. I'm really busy! I'm leaving Kisumu in less than a week, probably on Sunday actually. Which means I'm winding up with my internship, my friends, my host family, wow. I'm packing in some "domestic tourism," which in other words means "HAVE AS MUCH FUN AS YOU CAN NOW!" We're going on boat rides, eating fresh fish from the lake, visiting our families' rural homes, and swimming galore. We even had a bonfire by the lake. It's nice to do some of the things in Kisumu that I've always meant to do but never had the time to.

Once I leave Kisumu, I'll have less than two weeks in Nairobi. I have some presentations to give, a 50-100 page research paper to finish, gifts to buy, and more domestic tourism to accomplish. I don't think I'll travel at all, but I plan on hitting up the butterfly sanctuary and the national museum when I'm not writing about widow inheritance.

I will arrive in the United States of America! on April 26th at 2pm, if all goes as planned, which it never ever does. But if you want to see me, you can find me in Culver's stuffing my face with butter burgers, deep fried cheese curds, and strawberry shakes.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Things I Love

My friends and I complain a lot while we're here, let's just be honest. Kenya can be tough. But I know for a fact that when I leave I'll miss it. So for my benefit in these last few weeks and for all of yours too, here is a list of things I like in Kenya.
-The fact that the sky is blue every single day, and the weather consistent. No need to check the weather, and you can wear the same clothes every day.
-Cheap and amazingly flavorful mangoes, papayas, pineapples, bananas.
-Roasted chicken! YUM!
-Brushing my teeth outside every morning.
-The ability to swim every day.
-$3 DVD's with an entire season of a TV show (just ignore the Chinese subtitles).
-"Pole pole:" a very relaxed culture! Feel free to be 2 hours late or not show up. In other words, I don't leave the house until ten every day.
-The stars are ridiculously bright wherever you are.
-Things are always interesting and exciting!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bugs Version II

Oh man you guys. I think I've reached my bug tolerance. As you probably know, our toilet in Kisumu is just a hole in the ground surrounded by sheet metal. And lately, our cockroach count has been growing out there. During the day it's fine and I can use that toilet just fine. But at night... My goodness. Lately I've been seeing cockroaches bigger than my pinky finger! And usually I have to go out there twice while it's dark. Last night I saw three huge ones and refused to go in. Thank goodness my host mom told me at night I can just go potty behind the house from now on. Hopefully no neighbors see my white booty.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Police: 1 Stephanie: 1

That's right, I had another run-in with the police. But this time I won. (Read about the first time here:

Quite similarly to last time, I was in a taxi on a main road in Nairobi. I was with Alain (the guy I went to Rwanda with) and we were going out for a nice Italian dinner, so we were dressed nicely. And of course we came across a road block, quite typical in the Nairobi night. I hurriedly whispered to Alain that whoops, we weren't wearing our seatbelts (it was such a short drive, less than $3), but that these weren't traffic cops and I wouldn't bribe them at all, that I was going to be difficult. I'm not sure he got everything I said, but soon enough the cops were shining their lights on us and asking Alain to get out of the car. Of course, they asked for his ID but not mine. I could tell that they were debating the rules and if Alain and I should be let go. I motioned Alain over to me and told him to tell the policeman we were refusing any monkey business. Then Alain had an idea.

Alain's uncle is the Rwandan ambassador to Kenya (cool, eh?), and Alain has often accompanied him on interesting diplomatic trips, so he knew a little bit about those systems. Alain told me to pretend I was going to call "the office," and later to ask for the officer's name and registration number. I got out of the car and acted angry, and impatient. Eventually I took my phone out, and said, with much authority, "I'm going to call the office, this is ridiculous." Alain feigned annoyance. "No, don't do that, if you call them this will become a long ordeal!" Alain then spoke to the police in Swahili, saying, "If she calls her office, this will take so long, the diplomatic police are like that." I paced around a little bit with my phone in my hand, while the policeman hesitantly debated how much a bribe should be. Again, I picked up my phone, making a fake important phone call - "Can I have your name please? I think I really need to call the office." Once again Alain took the phone out of my hand, insisting that I shouldn't. The policeman looked from Alain to me and waved at us to get back into the car and go. Bribe free.