Name: Asha Misra
School: University of Rhode Island
SFS Program: Wildlife Management Studies, Kenya & Tanzania
Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I’ve known since I started at URI that I wanted to study abroad. I also knew I didn’t want a “normal” sit-in-a-classroom-in-a-different-country experience. The way I saw it, classrooms would look the same no matter what country they were in. That’s why when I saw the SFS booth at URI’s study abroad fair, I was determined that this program was made for me.
What are you first impressions of Kenya?
Kenya actually reminds me a lot of India. I have family there so I’ve been a few times, and as we drove from Nairobi to Kimana, I found myself making all kinds of connections to things I’ve seen in India. One major difference: the attitude towards foreigners here. Everyone is so friendly! Even the airport employees were nice! Also, we saw wild zebras and giraffes in the scrubland beside the highway, and, having only seen them in zoos before, I was pretty enthralled right from the start.
What are you first impressions of the Center’s Kilimanjaro Bush Camp?
The Center for Wildlife Management Studies is beautiful! When we arrived, all the faculty and staff were lined up to greet us. It was such an awesome way to “come home.” I have felt so welcome here from day one. I think the staff is my favorite part about the Center. They all want to talk to us and teach us Swahili and they always answer our questions no matter how ridiculous.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
I think that my biggest academic challenge will be getting used to this new learning environment. There is so much to do and see here and trying to focus on schoolwork when I’d rather watch the baboon family play is really hard! My biggest cultural challenge will be learning how to deal with the Maassai Mamas! They are the women in the Massai tribe who make gorgeous jewelry and sell it in Kimana. They are the most aggressive saleswomen I have ever encountered! I tried every Swahili phrase I know to try to convince them that I didn’t want to buy any jewelry…but they are relentless! Bartering is not something I am used to, and I hope to be a proficient by the end of the semester!
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I’m definitely looking forward to going back to Amboseli! On our next trip (which just so happens to be on my birthday!) we will be working with Kenya Wildlife Service to do mammal counts. I’m also really excited to go to other parks like Serengeti, Lake Nakuru, and Lake Manyara in Tanzania.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Happy. Excited. Grateful.