Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like ChristmaWHAT?!?!

When I teach back in the States I prefer the fall semester to the spring. My reasoning is that fall is all about holidays, so the students (and I to a certain extent) always have something to look forward to, lots of little milestones and goals to reach. Labor Day doesn’t really count because that is only the second week of school. But then, the beginning of October marks the start of fall and everyone looks forward to Halloween. Even if they aren’t dressing up the students can enjoy the candy and the parties.

Once Halloween is over everyone can see the end in sight. Less than a month until Thanksgiving when they go home for a long weekend, watch football and eat turkey. In reality, if I haven’t covered the material I want the students to know before Thanksgiving break I might as well forget about it because once they return all they are thinking about is final exams and getting off campus as quickly as possible.

Here in Botswana we don’t have the “pre-game” holidays as I like to call them. There is no Halloween or Thanksgiving. Instead we jump from the start of the semester August 1st and then straight through to Christmas. As such, we have to prepare for Christmas early in order to have something to anticipate with excitement. Believe it or not, now is the appropriate time to start prepping for Christmas. Keep in mind; it is 65 days until Christmas. But, everyone is really getting into the holiday spirit. You see trees, lights, music. Even some of the neighborhoods are decorated. This is my street in fact:

Do you believe me? I hope not. If you haven't seen it before that is 34th Street in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. I did my undergrad at Johns Hopkins which is about two blocks from 34th Street, so it was always a favorite sight of mine and all my classmates around final exam time. If you are EVER in the Baltimore area between Thanksgiving and New Year's you absolutely MUST make a trip to 34th Street.

Truthfully though, Botswana is preparing for Christmas. I was shocked when I went to the mall today and saw this:

And this:

I appreciate the effort, though these decorations pale in comparison to what most of us have seen in other countries. But here is what I find funny: Not long ago I wrote a blog post about the strange things my students ask me. In one class I was discussing North Pole, Alaska and the year-round Christmas theme. The students were familiar with Christmas; however, many did not know about Santa Claus and were shocked when I told them there were presents involved. Thus, why the decorations? And more importantly, why install the decorations more than two months early? NOTHING runs on time here, and certainly not early, so why would the decorations be up so early? Yet another question no one can answer for me…TIA.

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