Nettie's Journey - First Semester

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

How does one remove the “I” from what one writes? How do you not start every sentence with “I”?

It really is so hard because, in my opinion, the “I” is so important, the meaning of it deepens the more I pay attention, the more it isn’t about me, but more about what I am doing, experiencing. How it shapes me, my identity and how it is dependent on how much attention I pay to things other than myself.


I have experienced many feelings during my first month here at Bushwise – eagerness, disappointment, elation, frustration, appreciation and hope – many more, but let’s just say it has been a roller coaster ride, of that I can assure you!


I arrived at Bushwise eager and excited to start my learning journey, but before I could start that part of my journey, I needed to unpack and settle in.


I was informed that my roommate had cancelled and that I would have a room to myself. Now anyone who knows me, knows that that excited me very much! I had brought my favourite appliances and just don't know where I would have put them if I did have a room mate. Then there is also the matter of me not really sleeping, I wake up at all hours (normally any time from 3:00 am) and then I can’t lie in bed – I must get up and do something!

As all that know me quite correctly suspect, I promptly had the other bed taken out the room and started re-arranging my room.


Hell, what a story! I have never had to live in ONE ROOM! Nuts I tell you!

Anyhoo, I want to simplify my life, so here goes – lesson one – how to organize a room that is your bedroom, dressing room, study, kitchen and living room!

My Room Inside & The Building I share with two other Students


Other students arrived one by one, gosh what a wonderful bunch we are! People from all over the word, all with the same goal in mind! Amasing to say the least.


The next few days was taken up by admin & paperwork and then some.


Finally, we had our driving assessments and learnt how to change a tyre, a BIG tyre on a Land Cruiser no less! What a fun day it was! I enjoyed getting down and dirty and felt like I had accomplished something at the end of the day.


We started with daily lectures, presentations, and weekly tests – goodness – overwhelmed is an understatement! So much information that must get into my old brain in such a short space of time. The first tests were a disaster for me – felt like an absolute failure – I did not even get through studying the first module let alone the second one. During the week we started to learn Trees in the area and did practice drives around campus. We also did our First Aid course, which I thoroughly enjoyed once I got past some emotional baggage.



To be honest, a Tree is still a Tree and they all look the same to me. At this stage, I know about nine trees I did not know before and would not have been able to recognize before, therefore progress has been made, alas small.



Would you believe that I managed to get Covid in the bush – in the middle of nowhere!?


The nausea was torture, I could not eat, and the thought of food just made me want to get ill. Finally, I requested permission to leave campus and off I went to go see the local doctor. He was amasingly thorough and immediately did all kind of tests. He sent me for various blood tests as he could not find anything, other than the nausea, that was obviously wrong, said he would also ask for a Covid test, JUST in case.


Well! Who would’ve thought! A wave of disbelief and utter shock came over me when I received the notification from the Ampath app just after 00:00 that night – Positive!


All very strange and cannot be explained – don’t know where or how I managed to contract it, other than possibly fellow students that were A-symptomatic or possibly even a parcel I received.


Once you give up trying to figure out where you could possibly have contracted it, you start to think about everyone you could have infected! The latter the worst - I for one certainly don't want to be responsible for anyone getting this thing.


Campus was shut down for ten days, luckily during off week, so not too much time lost.

I had to remain in isolation for ten days and so also all the other students that were on campus. Thankfully all students & staff tested negative after five days isolation - a big relief.


Although I realized after the fact that I did have other symptoms prior to the nausea, I did not develop any new symptoms and hardly felt ill at all. Other than being incredibly tired every day for about five days. I got my appetite back a day after I had been to the doctor and quickly regained full strength. I feel like a new me! Ready to take on the world again.


Let us cut this short, else I might bore you to death with all the details!


What have I enjoyed most and what not so much?


Everyone knows I am hugely independent, so really don’t like the feeling like I am a child again, I feel like my hands are tied. I must ask the 'teacher' for permission for everything, I cannot make any decisions for myself, nor can I act on them if I do. I struggle with the confinement, not meeting new people. I struggle with the fact that information does not just stay in my brain after reading it once – that’s how my brain used to work! Now I must sit for hours making flash cards, trying to remember what is written on them.


I miss my washing machine and my bed, I miss my monthly Spa visits to Beautiful You.

I miss my friends and family and beautiful poached eggs with the most gorgeous yellow yolks on wilted spinach and afternoon Gins.


One of my biggest frustrations

I have friends hardly 20km away and I am unable to visit or see them.


On the positive side

I love hearing the Crested Francolins calling early morning, I love the clucking duets of the Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills during the day, I love hearing the side-striped Jackal calling and some mornings the Lions roaring. I love waking up and being in the bush veld (well sort of).

I love that, most days, I am in T-Shirts and Shorts – the weather is just fabulous!

…. OK OK…. Other than that one week cold spell we had - flip, how cold WAS that!?


This is what I want to do - I will make it!

As life has taught me over and over again: It is not fair, it is not easy and doesn't care about my plans & expectations. As always, I have to stand up, dust myself off, take the good, the bad and the ugly and just persevere! I am strong!


Here is to another semester ahead, hoping my next update will have a lot more positive feedback and that I will be in the swing of things properly.


Till next time,




A few photo's taken during my time here

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