Having lived in New York City for some time and being from a conservative, reserved town in Pennsylvania, I have been blessed to experience the open and friendly Tanzanian way. From the moment I got off the plane to sitting here now in Moyo Hill Camp in Rhotia, Tanzania waiting for lunch, I have waved to and greeted more strangers than maybe in the rest of my life combined. At first, I was confused because I wasn’t sure if they were waving at me!
It seems to me that saying hi, chatting on the street, and communication in general is a societal norm unique to this area. Engaging with the community has been profoundly helpful for settling into living in a new country, and learning a new language such as Swahili. Certain cultural differences, such as dress, may seem like obstacles to engaging with Tanzanians but their ultra-friendly demeanor makes it impossible not to communicate in some way. Studying abroad with SFS has allowed me to experience this wonderful trait, and has also helped me see how I prefer a more interactive culture.