Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Funny Things I'm Learning...

After being here for almost two weeks now, I have learned many simple things about daily life that you might not normally encounter in the United States, as well as some interesting stereotypes of Americans (and most usually have some truth to them):
1. Always bring your own toilet paper and soap to the bathroom with you.
2. Don’t go and use the latrine at night- there might be cockroaches crawling around the 5”x3” rectangular hole…
3. Here, whether your milk is whole or skim is not based on taste or health preference, rather it is based on how much water you need to add to have enough for your whole family.
4. Sidewalks are NOT for pedestrians: beware of taxi vans pulling over and boda-boda’s (their version of a less powerful motorcycle) driving by.
5. Also, pedestrians never have the right-of-way and people do get hit by boda-boda’s.
6. Animals are for practical use, not pets.
7. Coffee may be a prominent export but is hardly seen. Tea is the preferred drink and usually made with milk and a lot of sugar.
8. East Africans do not eat many sweets- except in their drinks (namely tea and soda).
9. Portions at lunch and dinner are huge and very filling (I have not been able to eat all of my food even once and don’t think I’ve ever felt hungry since being here).
10. Brush your teeth when you bathe, otherwise you might not have a place to spit and end up swallowing the toothpaste.
11. Don’t use too much soap when washing clothes- you also have to rinse by hand…
12. Scrub clothes with the balls of your hands, not your fingers or knuckles because you can rub the skin off and they will scab over. Also, if your fingers are hurting, that’s probably a clue that you are doing it wrong rather than you just aren’t used to it…
13. “Mzungu” means white person and is commonly shouted at you as you walk down the street.
14. Young children are often unfamiliar with white skin and may try to rub it off or pinch you to see if your skin changes. They also like feeling your hair and trying to pull up your shirt to see if you are really white all over.
15. Africans tell each other apart by facial features, not hair like we primarily do, so they have trouble telling Mzungu apart but can often even determine another African’s tribal heritage from their features.
16. Plan on social events starting at least an hour late.
17. Ugandans are very clean and bathe at least twice a day usually. They also dress very “smart” as they call it, but basically very professional.
18. Americans really do tend to be louder as a group.
19. All Americans have boyfriends/girlfriends, or are searching for one.
20. Your status is a common question, and if you are single you have to define it in terms of whether you are searching, available, or content.
21. Americans have machines to do just about everything and don’t know how to do anything by hand- including making the bed, washing dishes, peeling potatoes, etc.


  1. Amanda:

    Thanks for the great blogs---your life sounds quite interesting---even a taste of what some of us grew up with! Your blogs raise a lot of questions for us also, so I will ask them here but let us know if you would rather have us communicate with you via e-mail or facebook.

    Do you have your own room? Does any in the family speak English? How far are you from school? Do you have a classmate close by to walk with you to school? Are you in a village with houses close by? Do you have roads or walkways to get to school? Are you feeling more settled and included in the family now? Do you do your blogging at home or at school? How was the church service on Sunday? In English or local tongue?

    Enough questions for now! We are having good weather in Marco now; will be going to Palm Beach Thursday to meet your mom and dad.

    Love you,

    Mimi and Papa

  2. You can communicate either way, it really doesn't matter... I do have my own room and the light in my room is somewhat fixed so sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't... The father and oldest daughter speak English very well. The mom can speak some but doesn't very much so I'm assuming she doesn't know as much. I am a good 45 minute walk away from school but live on the same street as 2 other USP students and we pass a couple more on our way so I always have company and never have to walk alone. All of the homestays are in town so there are other houses and shops/stands nearby and the whole way to school. All of the countryside that I have seen so far (which is just between Entebbe, Kampala, and Mukono the more urban area anyway) is filled with buildings and its hard to distinguish between what is town and what isn't. Besides one dirt path that is a shortcut, we take the road to school but there aren't really sidewalks so you mainly walk in the dirt between the road and storefronts. I am much more settled in and love my homestay. Now that it is just the intermediate family things have calmed down so there is less formality and they have time to talk more with me. Also, as I grow to be less of a guest I am able to do more chores and participate more rather than just sitting and watching or being served. I blog at school because I leave my computer here where it is lockede up and I doubt they have internet as well. The church service was fine but long because it was all in Lugandan and I didn't understand anything or what was even going on because we were in the back so I couldn't see much as well. But I got to hold a sleeping toddler on my lap so it wasn't bad :) I think that answers all of your questions, but feel free to ask any more that you think of. I'm glad you are enjoying the weather and have fun with Mom and Dad! I love you!

  3. Hi Amanda,
    I have traveled this morning with you into the heart of a country and people group I am little familiar with and I have read about your experiences with great delight! May you continue to seek and find joy in each day and discover His good purpose for you as well. I appreciate hearing your openness to learning and your willingness to participate in all things new and different! May you continue to find and embrace times of silence alone with God and even alone in a crowd. Discovering how to be comfortable with presence when words are not exchanged can communicate so much... and parallels experiences of silence with God... we can choose to rest into such times, receptive, listening with our hearts and offering our acceptance without judgement, our love without expectation! I am sure you are a gift to so many...there and at home. Blessings, Linda Holmes