Monthly Archives: June 2015

Traveling during your PhD

The Thesis Whisperer

This guest post is by Dr Eva Alisic, Research Fellow at Monash University who researches and blogs on the topic of trauma recovery in children and adolescents. Eva spent some time at Harvard University while she was studying. In this post she shares some of her tips for getting abroad. You can find Eva as @EvaAlisic on Twitter.

Are you considering travel during your PhD – such as visiting a research group overseas for a few weeks or months? Excellent idea! In my experience an extended visit abroad while you do your degree is very valuable, both to your PhD and your future career.

Going abroad is one way to get inspiration – especially if your interest in your research is flagging. It’s a good way to learn new things and look with fresh eyes at your research environment and PhD. Of course, travel is an excellent way to expand…

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Expect the Unexpected

My first trip to South Africa was a two-week trip, over spring break, with the university. I traveled with a large group and the professor in charge of the trip drilled into our heads “things will go wrong.”  Or another way to put it? Expect the unexpected.  And yes, we got an unexpected stay in Chicago, bags were delayed, and people’s credit cards didn’t work.

In the past 24 hours I’ve learned this lesson again. “Things will go wrong!” But its ok.


Yesterday morning, I picked up a couple of last minute items as Target, but when I tried to use my debit card it was declined.  Puzzling.  I called my bank when I got home and my account was frozen because of mysterious charges from the night before.  I was up at 1a.m. (my time) reserving transportation and accommodation for my time in Namibia.  The charges looked odd to the bank and hence my account was frozen.  The issue was resolved with no problems, as things always are with my awesome credit union.  The incident had an upside-the credit union now has my South African mobile number on file in case anything unusual happens while I’m on that side.

The second, little hiccup, came when KLM sent me an email that might flight was cancelled. I immediately called Delta, the US partner to KLM, so I could get rescheduled. Even though the email said, “our representatives are working to get you re-booked” I didn’t want to wait. My flight was still showing up in Delta’s system and so, the customer service representative had to investigate that first.  Once she confirmed that, yes, indeed the flight was cancelled, she could work on re-booking me.  She was able to get me on a flight out of National to Atlanta and then a direct flight from ATL to JNB. Easy peasy.

I’m sure there will be more bumps in the road over the next month, but its part of the adventure.

Seeing And Believing

What does your Africa look like?


What we see should not be what we believe.

Hello Readers

Some of you might know that I live on the African continent. Those who need to refresh their memory on what the African continent looks like, please look below.

It is said that the shape of the African continent can be found on the African elephants ear. I’ll leave that for you the readers to judge.


I recently came across a video blog based on peoples opinions of South Africa. With the following pics I will show you some of their answers.

Our Roads


Our Animals


Our houses


Our People


As a South African I did not know how to respond to these opinions. If you the reader have agreed with these opinions, then please let me show you, my South Africa.






Yes, we do have amazing wildlife but they are on Game ranchers, away from suburban areas.



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The Meaning of the Flags Worn by the Suspected Charleston Killer

KLM Meet & Seat

Yesterday I received an email from KLM regarding my upcoming trip to South Africa.  The email was a well-timed marketing ploy for upgrades (seats, luggage, and meal options).  An additional option, at no cost, is Meet and Seat.  Where you can link one of your social media profiles to your seat choice and then other passengers can see a little bit about you.  This would have been a super cool function last year when I was flying with a big group, but my seat was always a random loner and not with the group. I signed up for it on this trip because, well, why not?! Only two other passengers on my four flights had also signed up.  On, one of my flights it was a young part-time Dutch DJ.  The second person, on a different flight was a young female, but she didn’t have much information.
Oh, and I did upgrade my seat on the last leg of my going and coming trips. So, good job marketing department.

Little Humans in South Africa

A big “Thank you!” goes out to my colleague who shared this video with me yesterday.  I’m sharing the video and the information shared on the YouTube page where the video was posted, in full.  Addo is next to Addo Elephant National Park.

Please watch and share.

Published on Jun 15, 2015 (from the orphanage’s YouTube channel)

This video takes place at the Langbos Creche & Care Centre in the informal settlement of Langbos in Addo, South Africa. Langbos represents the poorest of the poor among communities in South Africa, as it has no running water, electricity, or paved roads. The HIV rate is estimated to be over 50%.

The Langbos Creche & Care Centre serves as a kindergarten, a community center, and a home for orphan children. It runs on solar and wind energy, which provide the only electricity in the entire informal settlement. It also contains a permaculture garden that yields healthy vegetables for the children and has created multiple jobs for adults.

Our nonprofit Intsikelelo is currently working with the Langbos Creche & Care Centre to improve their community outreach programs and to help build a new orphanage to be a home for 10-16 children in the community.

Our mission is to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa by developing and supporting community-driven initiatives and connecting them to the world.

For more information, please visit: or

To donate: (Take Action) or (current fundraiser for Intsikelelo hosted by the Windy City Ball)

@intsikelelo on Instagram
@intsikelelo_inc on Twitter

For information on our next fundraising event, visit

The book in this video is Little Humans by Brandon Stanton (creator of Humans of New York)

Please reach out to Chris at with any questions!

CEO Sleepout South Africa – A farce

Poverty porn or poverty tourism is one aspect of my time in South Africa that was difficult to understand. Before I go any further I will state that the United States also has issues with poverty porn, which plays out on television for millions of viewers on a number of “reality” shows. The US entertainment industry has exported this idea to the UK too. You’re welcome.  No, really-I’m sorry.

I took a couple of tour trips into townships, two of them were with my school group on a city tour. When the bus pulled into the township children and men (unemployment rate is 26%) would come toward the bus. Some of the people smiled, but many of them flipped us off and yelled obscenities at the bus. I couldn’t feel mad at them because almost felt like we shouldn’t be there. Yes, going through the township helped me visualize the conditions, but it just felt wrong. It felt like the residents were, yet again, being exploited without their consent for the gain of the country. The people looking on our bus with distain did not know that we were students eager to learn about their country and trying to do it with a sense of respect. I think what bothered me the most on the township tour was that the tour was not given by someone who lived in the township.  People deserve the right and ability to tell their own story. Especially, when it comes to people from the continent of Africa because a single African story has been so deeply woven into the fabric of the Western narrative that the majority of westerners do not realize what a fallacy it is.

Billed as a themed B&B where “you can experience staying in a Shanty within the safe environment of a private game reserve. This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access! The Shanty Town is ideal for team building, braais, fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime.”

Your lost airline luggage probably ended up at this store

True Grit

Grit, the TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth is one of my favorites to use in the classroom, especially with freshmen.  University may seem like the inevitable next step for most students after completing high school.  However, completing university, for many students, is anything but inevitable.  Student’s who come from backgrounds where university was not the norm or financially their families are not able to help have a difficult time completing the coursework within the traditional timeframe.

I love Gunya Pamla’s inspiring story. He started university but then was not able to complete his courses due to financial support.  However, he kept his eyes on the prize and graduated from NMMU with a degree in law. Read the full story in the Port Elizabeth Herald here.

Gunya Pamla posing as a car guard in his graduation robe.

South Africa at an intersection, not a fork in the road

Jakkie Cilliers presents a forecast of South Africa at the 2014 Tedx Johannesburg event. He presents three possible futures for South Africa: Mandela Magic, Nation Divided, and Bafana Bafana.

Ethnographic Emergency

Quick, call an anthropologist!


Journey of a PhD student

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