So many emotions ran through me as I looked around the meeting place outside the Kilimanjaro International Airport at all the new students—weary eyes behind glasses, nests of buns on top of heads, and all the awkwardness of meeting 30 new people in a country after 24 hours of traveling. I couldn’t wait to get to know everyone.

Orientation to Kenya and the Kilimanjaro Bush Camp has filled our time here. We have learned about the poisonous snakes to look out for, how to identify the flies that will acid burn your skin if you squish them, and cautioned not to pet the dogs, cats, snakes, baboons, elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, or to swim with the hippos and crocodiles.

Though we have only been here a short time, it is already starting to feel like home. We continue to meet and fall in love with the Kenyan staff. For example, there is Moses, who runs the Duka (which translates to “store” in Swahili) and who has promised to get us wood-carvings for the best price in all of Africa. There is Okello, the Center Director, who always speaks with a smile and has an incredible love for Idaho and M&Ms. And there is Arthur, the head chef, who always cooks with his spiffy chef hat.

I have never been anywhere else where I can see Kilimanjaro from the shower, where the people are so open and excited and interesting, and I can absolutely promise that the balmy weather beats the biting snow at home. From the tangible excitement whenever there is talk of safaris and wildlife drives to games of soccer where the local staff will surely continue to best our top efforts, it is sure making out to be a wonderful semester for learning, fun, and gaining some perspective.