This semester we had the opportunity to switch places with the SFS Tanzania students for 2 weeks and experience life in their shoes. Although they are neighboring countries, Kenya and Tanzania are very different. Right as we crossed the border, the landscape changed from a traditional dry savanna bush land to banana and flowering trees popping up from everywhere. When we reached Moyo Hill Camp, just as the Kenyan staff did when we first arrived, we were welcomed and treated as if we were the new semester students arriving on their first day. We were absorbed into the Tanzania program and were introduced to all new professors who were happy to add their opinions and expertise to the topics we have been learning about all semester.
Along with the in-class and field lectures, we had the opportunity to travel and camp in many different national parks in Tanzania such as Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti National Park. Just like in Kenya, our days were spent driving around bumpy roads, gasping about the different animals while large clouds of dust blew everywhere. Although we were used to going on expeditions, the switch allowed us different chances to view new wildlife such as sneaky cheetahs, large prides of lions, and of course the remarkable rhino! Driving around in the deep grassy crater, the palm tree forest in Tarangire, and the open golden grasses of the Serengeti just made us fall more in love with the landscape and animals of East Africa.
After the two weeks were up, our class and the SFS Tanzania students met in Arusha and had a couple days to explore the city. Arusha was bustling, busy and filled with markets. It was fun to meet other SFS students who were also passionate about wildlife and conservation issues as well as other students struggling to speak in choppy Swahili. The crazy city was a much-appreciated break from classes but made us miss our rural, quiet camp in Kenya.
Overall, the switch allowed us to expand our experiences beyond one country and witness all of the wonders that the landscapes, wildlife, and communities of Kenya and Tanzania have to offer. The switch was one of the highlights of my time abroad, but I was also eager to go back to the beautiful, welcoming and stunning country of Kenya that I am lucky to call home.