What did you like most about the SFS experience?
I enjoyed getting to travel and explore a part of the country that most tourists don’t get to experience. I loved learning about the culture of Tanzania and experiencing it in such a unique way. From a homestay with the Iraqw to Directed Research with the Maasai, I got an intimate perspective on life in East Africa. I feel like my time abroad has taught me valuable lessons that I would never have received from a textbook. I have learned more about myself and my passions, which has made this semester with SFS worthwhile.
You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
Tanzania is a beautiful but complex country. It faces difficulty with aspects such as human-wildlife conflict, natural resource management, and wildlife management. Most local community members strive to resolve these issues, but the answer is not simple. For example, by managing the wildlife populations, humans living near protected areas have a higher interaction with animals, thus increasing human-wildlife conflict.
The people of Tanzania are very welcoming and I have grown to love this country very much.
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 best part is being surrounded by awesome people all day. If you ever need a friend, there is always someone nearby. I also loved the location of Moyo Hill Camp. The scenery is breathtaking and the sunsets every night are spectacular. The most challenging part for me is not having as much freedom as I am used to; I sometimes miss cooking for myself and having more alone time.
What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester, both academically and culturally?
Academically is has been trying to focus on my school work with the constant temptation to explore the town around campus. Culturally it was hard for me to adjust to how different it is from America. The struggles in the community include not having enough clean water to last the day, which is much different than the struggles from back home.
What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
1. The Serengeti expedition was surreal. From rhinos to leopard cubs, we had an incredible experience. The game drives were always filled with laughter and enjoyment.
2. The sunsets from Moyo Hill Camp. I have never seen sunsets like the ones in Africa; the sky just seems so much larger. The clouds are amazing and the sky is painted with various hues of pink and orange.
3. Wandering the local markets provide a vibrant array of colors as the mamas sell beautiful African fabrics. Market day is always beautifully chaotic, but I have come to love walking along as vendors sell their livestock, crops, and household goods.
Give three adjectives that best describe how you feel right now.
Nostalgic, inspired, exhausted