First Impressions of SFS Tanzania

Posted: September 8, 2014

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I chose to study abroad with SFS because this program offers the opportunity to learn not only from a classroom but also in a hands-on capacity with different expeditions and fieldwork. The fact that SFS isn’t a traditional study abroad experience like you could find with other programs in differing countries also drew me to my decision to study in Tanzania. This program offered the chance to study wildlife management in an environment different from the traditional university setting. Also, coming from a large university I particularly enjoy the opportunity to study on a smaller campus with a more centralized community feel!

What are your first impressions of the country?
After traveling for over two days to reach Kilimanjaro Airport, my first impression upon stepping off the plane was excitement mixed with feelings of wonderment. I couldn’t actually believe that my dreams of coming to Africa were finally coming true! After driving the next day through different parts of Tanzania to finally reach Moyo Hill and the town of Rhotia, all I can say is WOW. The view from the top of Moyo Hill was absolutely beautiful.

Then in the town of Rhotia, all of the locals were so friendly and inviting despite the communication barrier. The smiling face of the children and their enthusiasm upon seeing us is something I will carry with me the rest of my life. I love the way they blindly accepted me even though I couldn’t speak any Swahili whatsoever, yet they still approached and wanted to hold my hand or walk on the road with us content just for us to look at each other with silly grins on our faces. Overall, my first impressions of Tanzania are fascination for the landscape, the culture, the locals, the language, and so much more.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
After first arriving at Moyo Hill, I was mainly just excited to finally be in the location that I had been reading about from a field guide since first deciding to go abroad! Once we arrived the entire faculty and staff was waiting to greet us and shake our hands as we entered into the dining hall to sit down for lunch. The excitement and enthusiasm that everyone carried upon meeting us was so warm and welcoming! After we sat down to lunch and first started eating, I knew then and there that everything was going to be okay. As my family knows, I am all about some food, so the fact that lunch was so delicious was and has continued to be a promising sign for how the rest of this semester is going to turn out!

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
The biggest challenge I face this semester is actually disciplining myself to sit down and do my homework for classes! There are so many interesting and exciting activities to participate in from hikes up Moyo Hill and playing sports games to volunteering at a local orphanage and walking to the town of Rhotia to shop. My biggest challenge culturally is living in a foreign country and not being fluent in the local language.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
Aside from the obvious excitement of seeing the wildlife that resides in East Africa, I am definitely anxious to learn to speak Swahili fluently. Even after learning only a few basic phrases of this language I already love the sounds and words! There are so many awesome things to do in Tanzania, but going to the market in Karatu is one event that I am looking forward to as well. I am anxious to try my hand at bargaining with the locals and practicing my Swahili!

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Elated, enthusiastic, blessed