Learning the Language

Posted: October 3, 2013

After a few weeks in Kenya, everyone here is starting to get settled into a routine and we have started having assignments due for classes and such. It’s been almost surreal; I still have moments where I have to contain my excitement when I think about how close I am to such amazing wildlife. The only real struggle remaining in the cultural adjustment period is learning the native language, Kiswahili. Oddly enough, the first few days people spoke to me in Kiswahili I would get really flustered and respond in Spanish, which is also not my first language. I don’t understand how that worked, but thankfully it has stopped.

I am really making an effort to learn Kiswahili though; I’ve learned a few key phrases, such as “MY EYES. THEY BURN.” and “How is the ocean today?” (My banda-mates take pride in finding the most obscure and unhelpful Kiswahili phrases, and of course those are the ones I remember.) In all seriousness though, it has been a lot of fun learning another language, and the local community members have been very gracious as we practice our Kiswahili with them. With a little luck and a lot more practice I’m looking forward to being able to have full conversation in Kiswahili by the end of the semester!