Oberlin Blogs

I went out to get me a cold pop... (And other excuses for my absence)

January 16, 2013

Simbarashe Runyowa ’15

Youtube is one of my favourite things in the world. You know why? This :

Oh, Sweet Brown. I don't even know where to begin in thanking this woman, this weaver of one of my favorite philosophical maxims, the infallible phrase "Ain't Nobody Got Time For That." I am indebted to her.This seemingly vacuous phrase is, at least for me, loaded with significance. It summarizes so eloquently the fundamental limits that the scarcity of time places on our innate desire to pursue activities we love and enjoy. Like blogging regularly. It has truly become a seminal pillar of my philosophical centre, a central tenet of my guiding beliefs.

Just kidding.

But on the real, though, I was super busy this past term. Between being a student, a Bonner Scholar (which requires me to complete ten hours of community service a week, yikes!), a Resident Assistant in Dascomb Hall, a peer mentor, treasurer of the African Students Association, an Obertone (acapella yay!), and tutoring, I got a little burned out!

This past semester I was stretched. Stretched for time, and definitely stressed out. I learned that being a mortal human being means that you cannot and MUST not attempt to do everything that appears even vaguely appealing to you or your interests. Sometimes, you need balance, and it often means, when an attractive opportunity that you find appealing comes your way, to simply look at your calendar and say, #AintNobodyGotTimeForDat.

My problem has been that I do not appear to learn. Each semester I vow to do less, rather than more activities. Each semester, I add more things to my schedule. But I promise, I won't do it again this semester. (That last sentence is untrue.)

Anyway, I've been away for a while, for the above reasons. So, what's been happening in my life?

Well, I'm in NEW YORK this winter term!! I'm doing an awesome amazing internship at the Vera Institute for Justice, working on immigration issues and on youth in the juvenile justice system. But more on that in a future blog post, let's get a mini-series of posts going here, okay?

How did I end up doing this? Well,

My winter term plans kind of evolved randomly. Initially, I thought I wanted to go home to Zimbabwe and spend Christmas and the subsequent whole of winter term chilling at home and doing a "fun" winter term. My original idea was to go home and paint landscapes of life in my city of Harare (p.s. when I'm not doing politics stuff I draw stuff!). Also, sun, and lots of it. I was really planning on getting a good dose of vitamin D to last me until May. (Yo, Ohio ain't about that sun life.) Weirdly, it doesn't appear that I even needed to leave the country, as it has not snowed at all here in New York, where I am currently typing this. The plan was to enjoy the summery weather, eat mangos (nowhere to be found in Ohio), travel, and meet with friends and family and dive back into painting, something I love doing but never have time for during the semester. That was the original plan.

But if there's one thing I've learned to deal with at Oberlin, it's unexpected changes. (Tutelage on this subject came mainly from the utter randomness of Ohio weather.) Around the middle of the semester I began to realize that my plans were probably not going to work out. As you probably know, international travel is expensive. By the end of, say, November, when I had actually accumulated enough money to consider Winter Break in Zimbabwe as an option, that is the precise point in time at which plane ticket prices to Zimbabwe skyrocketed to almost three and a half thousand dollars. Even after scouring trusty Expedia and Orbit, there were no cheap bargains to be found on the internet and it became rather clear that I wouldn't be spending Christmas at home as I had anticipated.

The other barrier that I had was that my American visa was about to expire. The Department of state grants Zimbabwean citizens a maximum of 2 years on an F-1 (student) visa. This means that I am now due to renew my visa (which can only be done outside of the United States). The problem is that, if I went home and did not renew my visa (which I wasn't planning on doing since renewing a visa is also very expensive), I would face the itty-bitty problem of being barred from re-entering the United States.

That would be unfortunate.

The great news is that I can legally remain in the country on an expired visa until the end of my degree program in 2015. The only problem is that you will be "stuck" here unless you renew your visa--the minute you leave the United States, you will have to return to your home country to renew the visa before you can re-enter. So the long and short of it is, I am going to stay here, go home during the summer, and renew my visa then.

So here I find myself in NYC for the month. I really love it here. I am living in Brooklyn, in a nice little neighborhood called Park Slope. It's a nice area, which I was assured by one of the landlords I met is "gentrifying." (Not sure if that is necessarily a good thing/why it should be used to market a place?)

But anyway. I love Brooklyn--the quaint little stores (especially on this strip called 7th Avenue in Park Slope), the thrift stores, and the ethnic restaurants. I was happy to find a wonderful South African restaurant, Madiba (named after Nelson Mandela), which serves amazing southern African food. Their baby back ribs are just about everything you will need to successfully live a fulfilling life.

I have however found the litany of tanning salons peppered all over Brooklyn to be rather needless (for me at least, obviously).

As Sweet Brown would say, ain't nobody got time for that. ;)

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