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Study Abroad in Tanzania

Day One

Directed Research started today. My project is to conduct personal interviews on how climate change affects local livelihoods and biodiversity, but that’s not important. What’s important is the events that unfolded today to give one of the best reasons we are advised to stay flexible during our research. 16 November 2015 6:30 AM- My banda mates wake up to prepare for their DR. They are making final preparations for a six-day camping trip in the remote Yaeda Valley, which means a third of the students will be gone. I roll […]

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Tarangire National Park Expedition

As you may have noticed, my four loyal readers, today is October 30th. Our expedition to Tarangire National Park started on October 3rd. My bad. I will try to recall event details to the best of my ability, but I am at the mercy of my journal entries, which consist more or less of stream-of-consciousness blather. This semester, we will go on three expeditions where we go camping in national parks. The first of the three was Tarangire National Park, about a two-hour drive (one and a half if you’re […]

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There’s No Place Like Homestay

Last night, Becky announced our homestay assignments, where pairs of students would spend the day with a local family and learn about their daily activities. I couldn’t contain my excitement and began to bounce in my seat until I regained composure of my muscles. Each of the houses was titled by the Mama who lives there, usually followed by the last name or the first-born child. The first announcement was Mama Aziz, our Swahili teacher’s mother, followed by no less than a full minute of uproar from the students. Since […]

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We Will We Will Iraqw You

10/9/15 Iraqw Culture One of the lessons I’ve learned during my time in Tanzania is the major opportunity provided by language. I can think of no greater way to traverse boundaries and connect people, enabling one to access a bounty of wisdom that can only be shared through widespread communication. That being said, I have been struggling with Swahili for over a month now, watching the portal to infinite Tanzanian knowledge denied to me. The staff at SFS are terrific and selfless, and I want to know as much as […]

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Maasai, Manyara, Mto wa Mbu, and More

9/17/15 Our Wildlife Ecology professor brought a bag of dried animal poops to class today. He waved them around whimsically, pieces flying every which direction, asking us to guess which animal produced each one. He walked up and down the aisles of tables, joyfully placing small piles on students’ notebooks and asking us to take careful notes on the size, shape, and texture. Thus is the sass and style of John Kioko, Ph.D. There was a valid reason for his lesson, of course, other than his own enjoyment from students’ […]

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It Was the Best of Times

Time moves differently in Tanzania. The calendar shows I’ve been here just three weeks, but it feels as though it could have been anywhere from a few days to several months. Classes, fieldwork, and socializing have all been such a whirlwind that recalling details makes my head spin. (Or maybe my malaria meds are just making me nauseous.) I only anticipate the pace to pick up from here though, and it may be January by the time I am caught up. Thanks for your patience, Mom and Dad. 9/14/15 Our […]

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Elephant Cave Hike and Karatu

Me holding the skull of a cape buffalo at the entrance The weather in Tanzania so far has been absolutely gorgeous every day, making it dangerously easy to fall deeper in love with my surroundings. We are at the beginning of the dry season, and the short rains won’t start until November. The mornings start out cool and breezy, progressing towards a daily high around the mid-80s F. The sun is constantly shining with only a few clouds in the skies, which contributes to a dry heat augmented by the dust everywhere. […]

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Moyo Hill Camp

9/9/15 The drive to camp took about 2.5 hours, but the experience was much different during the day. Many of the locals waved to us on the way, and seemed very welcome as we cruised through the dusty roads. We saw many people from the Maasai tribe, often decked in bold blue and red robes, herding livestock with sticks along the side of the road. This season, plaid is in. Speaking of dust, it is everywhere. It is in my lungs, my clothes, and skin. I saw more than a few dust […]

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First Impressions

9/7?/15 Somewhere Between Amsterdam and Kilimanjaro Time zones are hard. I’m not convinced the French aren’t Sims. There is an adorable yet disruptive tiny human next to me on this flight with her mother and much more well-behaved older sister. The 2-year-old has proceeded to scream her lungs out for half the flight, which actually hasn’t bothered me quite as much as others, as I resolved early on not to let her howls affect my slumber in any way possible. Back to the French being Sims, though; the mom keeps cooing […]

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Soko Kuu (Head Market)

My little sister asked me what the markets are like so…this one’s for you Noelle. You can usually hear the market from a mile away. It’s not that Arusha has ever been quiet enough for noise to carry, but rather these prime markets draw so much attention it’s impossible to ignore. The main one I’ve found myself at is Soko Kuu (The Head Market). This markets hosts everything from fresh produce to dagaa (small fish) to clothes to cooking ware. Just outside the main market place are smaller carts filled […]

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150 Cows

Good news, I got like my 20th marriage proposal. However, this one may forever take the cake. My dowry is 150 cows. So in a village in Karatu I found myself only speaking Swahili and surprisingly faring pretty well. In case you’re wondering, there’s nothing as charming to a Maasai man as a conservatively dressed white girl attempting to converse in Swahili. He told me if I married him, the dowry would be 150 cows. Fifty cows for my long hair. Forty cows for a neck like a giraffe. Another […]

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Nafasi: Empty Cups and Developing Countries

Yesterday evening, I was provided with some incredible words of wisdom. Their source was neither a scholarly work nor a facebook status nor a presidential speech. Rather, they came in the form of a boot-legged, karate movie with Swahili subtitles. Though this seemed like yet another attempt at bad entertainment, one scene included a brilliant discourse of empty space. There’s something valuable about the empty spaces that somehow occupy our lives. As this movie addressed, a cup is not useful because it’s a cup, but because there’s empty space inside […]

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My First African Wedding (Harusi Kwanza ya Afrika)

By far, this must have been my best night yet in Tanzania. For my program, we have the most amazing Tanzanian woman, Mercy, who ensures we survive our time abroad. Not only have we been able to come to Mercy with our questions about cultural norms, classes and language translations, but I’ve had the opportunity to find a wonderful Tanzanian friend who I can learn from on a daily basis. Mercy’s sister got married this weekend and we (myself and another American student) had the great honor of attending this […]

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One Month Update: I’m doing just fine

If we’re being real, study abroad is hard. I’m on the other side of the world, forced to speak a new language, not know where anything is, and battle the price of international calls home. I am constantly dirty and I’ve yet to hear a moment of silence. Of the contacts in my phone, I’ve known none for more than a month. Stores and hospitals and cultural expectations are different, and you can’t tell people that they’re wrong. And it makes me tired. But somehow in the midst of everything […]

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All Things Sustainability: Thrive or Survive?

This week I had the fortunate opportunity of visiting the organization ECHO just outside of Arusha. The purpose of this organization is to connect sustainable development projects in Tanzania together to collaborate and ensure more efficient uses of resources. During our time there, we received a tour of some of the sustainable projects and garden designs that are being used throughout the community. The purpose of many of these designs is to be efficient, low cost and with a substantive harvest. This includes water filtration systems and irrigation systems. As […]

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