Final Impressions of SFS Tanzania

Posted: December 9, 2014

What did you like most about the SFS experience?
It’s not easy picking and choosing parts of the SFS experience that I liked the most. Overall the experience was just amazing. First and foremost, the academics were incredible. They were challenging but engaging with a lot of great field exercises in the mix. Directed Research (DR) was a good opportunity to practice the entire scientific process while getting the chance to work with professors and fellow classmates.

Speaking of which, getting to know and befriend the professors, staff and students has been amazing in itself. There is such a unique and fun group of people each contributing to this program. Last of all, the location is amazing. All of the sights I have had the opportunity to see and experience are just incredible. Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro, and Serengeti are all beautiful places and I am humbled to have been there. So though I cannot pick one, I have truly loved the SFS experience.

You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impression of it now.
This country is amazing, in that my impression has not changed, but Tanzania and Rhotia especially have started to feel like a home. Comparing Tanzania to America is hard, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. I can’t help but feel Tanzania is overwhelmingly beautiful with tons of amazing wildlife and great people.

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 field station has become home, and feels truly comfortable.  We spent a lot of time at camp while writing out final papers and we have explored every nook and cranny.  The field station is great because its small enough that you can always find everyone, but large enough that you can always find space to work. My personal favorite place are the hammocks we have set up in the corner, definitely the best place to hang out.

The best part of living at the field station is having everything we need super close. Being able to get out of bed, walk across the station and meet with a professor is so nice.  The challenging part is finding quiet and alone time.  With 42 students its definitely a challenge, but when you do get alone time you learn to cherish it.

What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
The biggest academic challenge was time budgeting.  There is always something happening, and it can be hard to choose to stay behind and write a paper when everyone goes and plays football or into town to have fun. Culturally, the biggest challenge was language.  Knowing some Swahili made it possible to have and hold meaningful conversations but not being completely fluent was at times frustrating.

What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
There are so many memories created on this trip and so many friendships made. The expedition to Serengeti was by far my favorite. Getting to camp in the Serengeti and see amazing wildlife and driving around is hard to top.

Give three adjectives that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Nostalgic, Excited, Nervous:

Nostalgic because the semester is wrapping up and it’s a good time to look at what we’ve done and remember the good times.

Excited because leaving is the next step in my life journey and I’m that excited I’ve had this experience and excited to share it with friends and family.  Last, I’m excited because I know that I will eventually return to Africa.

Nervous because this is the next step and I am not entirely sure how the transition back to life at home will go.