It’s been an unacceptably long time since I’ve posted something on this blog…165 days to be exact. Honestly, I’ve had a serious mental block and have been feeling a little unmotivated. Between studying towards a master’s degree in human rights on the most intense academic programme I have ever been on and being on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster lately, I’ve found myself unable to write anything. I scrapped pretty much all the posts that I started working on as they just didn’t resonate enough with me to post them. But life would be rather dull if we didn’t have the opportunity to battle through and triumph over the bad times to experience the good. I’ve finally wrapped up the first semester of the programme so I thought I’d go back to doing some writing that isn’t for a grade.
To say that the past four months have been intense is quite the understatement. Never in my life have I experienced anything so academically challenging, highly demanding and mentally-exhausting. I knew doing a master’s degree, which is what I always wanted to do would be challenging, but I guess I took it for granted just how much. In spite of how hectic it’s been and my occasional slips back into bouts of anxiousness, I’ve managed to overcome it without any major hiccups. My classmates and I have been worked really hard and I’m certain we can conquer almost anything the workplace or further studies throws at us.
An unexpected consequence of getting back into the classroom as a student, is that I’ve once again become sharply conscious about my cultural and linguistic and identity. In a programme that places a lot of emphasis on comparative study of best practices and learning how to improve the human rights situation in one’s “home” country, not feeling like I have a home makes for exciting opportunity to learn from others but also, to a large extent, makes me feel somewhat isolated from and out-of-touch with my country of origin and the continent.
The numerous introductions our class has had to make during short courses, special events and to visiting lecturers have been exhausting for the entire class a bit of an anathema for me because I’m always confronted with one of my favourite questions: “where do you come from?” I say that with a heavy dose of sarcasm which you’ll understand if you read one of my previous blog posts on that same question. At first, I would give my usually go-to response: “I’m Zambian, but I live in South Africa” or “I’m ‘originally’ Zambian” but ten introductions in, I got over it and simply began introducing myself as Zambian, no qualifications whatsoever, and prayed to my creator that I wouldn’t be called upon to give any examples in class of the human rights situation in Zambia of which I have extremely elementary knowledge haha. But this is what I signed up for so I just shrug it off. When I think about it, it’s quite comical that questions as simple as, “where do you come from?” or “who is Zambian in this class?” can make my stomach churn and my palms sweaty. A bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but I really don’t like answering that question because honestly, I wish I didn’t matter to me so much. However, while this may be a little awkward for me, if anyone else senses my feelings of awkwardness, they haven’t communicated that fact to me which works just fine for me. Having to answer the question so many times, I’m pleased to say that I’ve become somewhat numb to it and it doesn’t affect me as much anymore. It’s an aspect of my existence that makes me unique so it’s something I try to embrace and am very thankful for.
Earlier this year, I made a decision to take each day as it comes, keep my anxiety levels down and focus on enjoying myself. I’ve interacted with some extraordinary people, visited some amazing spots around Pretoria, made some wonderful friends and I’ve been inspired by some beautiful souls. Now, I’m looking forward to embarking on the new adventure that awaits me at Makerere University in the second semester. I’ve never been to east Africa so I’m excited about the opportunities for growth and personal development that the remaining four months of the programme will bring. I also cannot wait to get on the Ugandan party scene which a reliable source tells me is quite vibrant. I’m also hoping to visit some of Uganda’s neighbouring countries, sample some interesting cuisine and find more inspiration for my creative endeavours. But overall, I welcome a change of scenery.
Although my life has completely revolved around my degree programme in the last few months and I’ve ended up temporarily neglecting some of my hobbies and interests to get through it, the mental energy to write has returned to me and I’m ready to get right back into it the artsy stuff. I have some posts in the works which will go up on this blog very soon including a few from a number of guest bloggers who will provide some great insights into the subject matter of my blog. I’m still very much a debutante in the blog writing enterprise and working to find my groove but I have high hopes for the near future.