This Friday marks the halfway point of my whole trip (exactly twenty-four weeks) away from home – I know, I’m even more shocked than you are to hear that! It seems like only a few days have passed since I had several sleepless nights over how much I had to do before I left England, or since I was having the time of my life on safari and at the wildlife ranch… To celebrate, I’m going to make some chocolate tiffin (what a treat!) and I’m allowed a new blade on my razor and a new mascara – very exciting, I hear you cry!
I’ve been looking back over my time away so far and wondering what I’ve learnt, or how I’ve progressed. When I was still in England, I definitely had some tendencies towards being OCD about germs, but since living at the school I have cleaned out (amongst other things) a cupboard littered with rat droppings and a neglected toilet, with my bare hands. I’d say that’s a definite improvement! My parents are going to have to increase my rate of pay for being their cleaner when I get home… Also, I’ve always appreciated that I had a very good education, but I never realised the extent of how true that was. Children do not exactly notice how lucky they are to have teachers with the vaguest idea of what they’re doing, or the organisation required to keep a register and fire procedures etc, but they really are. Not to mention how I took running water, electricity and enough desks or resources for granted! Never again. Rationing food has also helped me to appreciate being able to eat whatever I like, whenever I like. We eat very well and healthily here (all we seem to eat is vegetables really!), but I miss the more expensive foods (meat, berries etc) and treats like cake that I can have at home. Mostly I miss being able to snack! It’s very good preparation for being a uni student though; maybe I should write a book about ‘cooking on a budget’ – I’m sure it’s been done before, but we’ve had some pretty impressive ideas! Who knew how many things you can do with an aubergine…
Mostly, I think I’ve learnt to appreciate my family more, or I hope so at least. I think I have taken their presence for granted to some extent; suddenly I can’t just ask my parents how they would deal with one of our many problems at the school or our accommodation (which, let’s be honest, are fairly plentiful…) or for their advice on certain cooking queries. I was very independent before I left and I think they prepared me very well for this, and life in general I guess, as they’ve given me experience in cooking, cleaning, safety, being by myself etc, but I’ve come to realise just how much they’ve done for me, and for that I will be thankful to them for the rest of my life.
So what do I hope to gain from the next twelve weeks? I’m really enjoying getting fit again from cycling everywhere on our Zambikes; up hills, over potholes, in the torrential rain – you name it, we’ve cycled in it for several hours – so we’ll be keeping that up! Hopefully I’ll just continue to build on all the things I’ve mentioned above, and most importantly appreciating all that I am fortunate enough to have.