What did you like most about the SFS experience?
My entire SFS experience has been amazing! I loved that we got to go into the field for lectures and do field work. The entire atmospheres in both Kenya and Tanzania were great and it was very hard to have a bad day in either place. I am so thankful to have been to two countries through this experience. My favorite part about the SFS experience was the faculty and staff. They were all so excited to be there and be helpful and loved getting to know everyone. They were also always happy, which needs to happen in more often in more places in the world!
You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
Kenya and Tanzania both feel like home to me now. Going back to America will be great but it will difficult for me to adjust from the lifestyle that I had in East Africa. It is such a different experience and different culture that I feel like a part of it will always be with me.
What is life at the field station really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts of living at a remote field station?
The Center in Kenya is so amazing. It is exactly what I was hoping for. The bandas and the chumba are perfect, they were not too fancy but also not too rustic. It was easy for me to live simply here, which may have been my favorite part of living at the Kenya field station. The most challenging part about living at the field station is that we are fenced in. It is completely necessary for our safety but sometimes I feel stuck inside. Luckily, when we aren’t busy we are allowed to go outside of camp, which made that a bit easier.
What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
Academically, Directed Research was my biggest challenge. It was a lot of work in a short amount of time and deadlines came up quick. It definitely pushed me to work really hard and prepared me better for research after college. At the time of DR, all the students were stressed but it was so worth it in the end.
Culturally the language barrier was the biggest challenge. Although we had a Swahili class in Tanzania, I wish I had taken some classes back at home before coming to East Africa. It was great to have a Swahili class there but it was difficult for me to keep all of the rules and exceptions and vocab words straight with just a few weeks of classes. It was an incredible challenge because I felt like I couldn’t connect with the staff as well as I would have liked. Some of them spoke little to no English and I wish I knew Kiswahili and Kismaasai better so that I could’ve connected with staff more.
What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
I don’t think I can pick just one memory to be the best! The best times I’ve probably had were both expeditions to the Serengeti and to Lake Nakuru. It was great to not be at camp for a week and do fun stuff. Although there was work involved, much of our time was spent going on game drives and just enjoying the wildlife and the environment for that time. I saw so many cool animals that I never thought I would ever see in my whole life. It was also great to be around everyone in an environment different than at camp. Some of the best times were when we were all just hanging out and playing cards or sitting in a circle eating dinner and talking. I will never forget how amazing those two expeditions were.
Give three adjectives that best describes how you are feeling right now.
Happy, thankful, and inspired.