Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I had a friend who had done the program previously, and seeing all of her pictures on Facebook and hearing about her experiences made me start to consider the program. When I started really researching and looking into the program I fell in love with it and all of the completely unique opportunities that the program offered. I didn’t want a standard semester in some European city, and I really liked how this program offered me a chance to live in a country I otherwise most likely wouldn’t get the opportunity to visit, while also letting me step completely outside my comfort zone.
What are you first impressions of the country?
Tanzania is incredible! It is unbelievably beautiful every single place you look. The night we arrived, all of us were completely mesmerized trying to see all the stars in the sky. After staying the night in a city called Arusha, we drove the rest of the way to the camp and the countryside was incredibly green and vast, with mountains and hills going on for miles. The weather so far has been absolutely gorgeous, with a sunny blue sky and temps in the 80s every day. It honestly feels like what I imagine paradise would feel like. And the people are so friendly, they smile and wave every time they see you. It’s fantastic!
What are you first impressions of the field station?
The field station is a lot nicer than I was expecting. I had expected it to be kind of bare with a few buildings, but it is actually really green and beautiful. There are a ton of trees and shade, and a lot of people have hung up hammocks to take full advantage of it. The “bandas” are really comfortable, though the bathrooms take a day or two to get used to. The staff here are incredibly friendly and were all lined up to greet us as we pulled in, which was a cool surprise.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Academically, I think the biggest challenge this semester will be trying to get homework and readings done in the camp environment. So far it’s been really warm and sunny, and its hard to try and concentrate on schoolwork when everyone is hanging out outside. Culturally, I’m sure my biggest challenge will be getting used to haggling about prices. Very few prices are set in stone here, and so far it’s been weird and a little stressful to debate about the price of things.
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I’m most looking forward to our expeditions to Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks, as well as our non-program day visits to local towns and sights. The expeditions were a major reason why I chose the program, and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to camp and do research in the parks. I’ve also heard the stars in the parks are INCREDIBLE, and I’m really excited to see those as well.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Blissful, ecstatic, mildly overwhelmed