Ernest Hemingway once said: “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.” This statement holds true for me, as it has been about three weeks since I landed in this beautiful country to study wildlife management, and I find myself more amazed by the colorful landscape, regal wildlife, and beautiful culture that I am surrounded by every day.
Life here is certainly an adjustment, but it offers the best kind of challenge both mentally and academically. A typical week involves lectures in the classroom followed by fieldwork out in the community, ranging from interviewing local people to learn about their hardships with access to natural resources, to going out into Lake Manyara National Park to study baboon behavior. Moyo Hill camp is a beautiful little oasis where we are lucky enough to be living, spending many hours of the day hanging out in the sunshine. Extra time at camp is often spent exploring Rhotia, the town we are living in, playing volleyball, watching movies on the porch, or playing soccer with the local guys. We have all also taken to purchasing fabrics at the markets and taking them to the tailors in town to have custom made clothes! Also, we just had our first community service day where many of us volunteered at a tree nursery, helping with reforestation in the area. As early as it is in the program, I can already say with confidence that this will be the greatest experience of my life thus far.
Our trip to Lake Manyara National Park was probably the best day that I have had here so far. We zoomed around the park, our heads all popping out of our open-top Land Cruisers, trying to catch glimpses of wildlife while also repeatedly ducking for cover from the thorny tree branches above us. Groups of elephants would cross the road in front of us, being only an arm’s length away with their babies frolicking closely behind. The rest of the park was covered with giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, impala, baboons, blue monkeys, waterbuck, hippos, and so much more. Being able to not only see these animals in the wild but also learn about their conservation is just about the coolest thing.
I know I am speaking for everyone at camp when I say that we are all excited for what the rest of the semester will bring. From a trip to Tarangire National Park, to homestays and another expedition to the Serengeti, plus our directed research projects, we have much to look forward to. I truly cannot wait for the rest of our adventures here in Tanzania!