Monday, September 1, 2008

First week

So I really want to get into the habit of writing about things, because if I don’t, I know that I will regret it. I have now been here almost an entire week, and yet somehow it seems like I’ve been here a lot longer. This is pretty much the first time that we’ve had any time to just sit and adjust, which has been kind of stressful. But probably good. The city is absolutely enormous; it just goes on and on and on. But it isn’t the same as a western city, in that people are growing corn in the medians of the highways, and there are these strange pockets of extreme poverty packed in with the secure compounds and mansions. It’s really strange to be living in this nice, furnished, secure apartment that is large and spacious that has three bedrooms and four people, and where people clean and do your dishes for you, and then to look out your bedroom window to see the two men who basically live across the wall of our apartments under a tree with some blankets. I really think they’re living there…permanently. This type of wealth disparity is apparent pretty much everywhere you go in Nairobi, and it’s pretty odd. Not that that kind of imbalance doesn’t exist in the US because clearly it does, but not on the same level.

USIU has a really beautiful campus, which is going to be a welcome change from the city, I think. Maybe the classes aren’t really up to snuff, but if for no other reason, I think it will give us all a quiet refuge other than the apartments that will break up the insanity of life in Nairobi. I really hope that these are good classes, even though the opinion seems to be otherwise. I’m interested to hear the Kenyan perspective on economics and resource management. They certainly have to think about it in a really different light. I’m actually really excited about classes and school actually starting again. I think that the last week has been so crazy because we’ve been pretty much all experience all the time, and we’ve been out and going and watching, with this onslaught of sensory information, and it’s been understandably kind of dizzying.

Orientation has just been exhausting. I knew that security was going to be an issue, but I guess I just hadn’t really thought it through. I have class until 5:10 pm twice a week and it’s going to be a mad dash to see if I can get home via public transportation before the sun goes down and it’s not safe for me to be on a Matatu (think insane African taxi-bus). If I’m late for some reason, I’ll have to take a cab because we’re not allowed to walk outside, anywhere, at night. The sun sets at like 6:30 here so anywhere you need to go after that must be done by cab. Which isn’t as big a deal here as cabs are only a few dollars, but that adds up in the end. I think we’ll end up doing all of our errands in the day time if we can and only using cabs to go out on weekends. Which really isn’t so different than my life at school, really I don’t walk too many places at night on weekdays, other than on campus, but the fact that I’m not allowed to due to safety is just really unnerving. It will take some getting used to. A lot of our discussion during orientation was about security in one way or another. What we as women need to know, what we as white people need to know, as foreigners, and just as people in Nairobi. How to use public transport safely, what to look out for, what to do and what not to do. I think they did a pretty good job of preparing us; the fear factor might have been laid on a little think at times, but I think it’s better to be a little too wary than not wary enough. I don’t think it scared anyone to the point of being incapacitated, so we’ll just all be extra careful until we have more of an understanding of how things really work.


aaa8380 said...

Anjali! Nairobi sounds so insanely interesting..and I can't wait to hear about all of your adventures and new chocolate friends : )
say hi to Erin for me!...I hope all of you are safe and well..


Caitlin said...

Squee!! I'm so jealous and exited for you. I can't wait to hear more from you. Have a fabulous time and stay safe.

XXOO Caitlin

Jenelle said...

I can`t wait to hear more! oh and ps they told us not to walk around alone in Paris at night either, so I think a lot of it is just a city thing, although obviously you guys have many more security concerns. and we chose the same theme for our blogs. Hope you`re settling in well!

Rachel said...

hey! i'm glad you're getting to know the city :) you'll hit a good rhythm soon... orientation week just sucks like that. hope you're having a good time though. AU misses you!!