Overall, I would say that I had an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling study abroad experience in Tanzania. The hands on field-work I did towards the end of the semester on wildlife management was incredible and I left the program feeling satisfied by the academic experience I had. Additionally, I met some amazing people and made some friends who I’ll keep in touch with back in the states. I would say one of the biggest takeaways I had from my study abroad experience was learning to exit my comfort zone a little more, whether it be trying new things or meeting new people. I’m a quieter person and study abroad really forced me to put myself out there more and I left the experience feeling really grateful for that. Additionally, another big takeaway I had from my study abroad experience was learning how to navigate a foreign culture, interact with local people, and give back to the community in a meaningful way. My advice to students going abroad next semester who have already chosen their program is to really immerse themselves in their host culture. My advice to students who have maybe not chosen a program yet is to step out of your comfort zone and maybe look into studying in a country you don’t know much about or hadn’t heard of. Studying abroad has definitely made me want to explore more of the world and I have even looked into work opportunities in foreign countries. All in all, it was an incredible experience and I am so grateful for the experience I had.
About Cole Usdan
Posts by Cole Usdan:
Something I have missed the most about Colby is the Professors I have at Colby. Not to say the Professors here aren’t great, because they are, but I really miss some of the Environmental Science Professors at Colby. I have also missed some comforts in the US such as food, good internet, and being able to talk to my friends at normal hours of the night. The food in Tanzania is great, but I definitely miss some specific foods and drinks such as bubble tea and sushi. Additionally, I have to talk to my family and friends here really late at night so I am definitely going to enjoy being back in the USA. I am also going to miss a lot of stuff about Tanzania, and the campus here. I am going to miss the great friends I have made as well as the wonderful, welcoming staff and Professors who I have made good bonds with. I am also going to miss how welcoming everyone in the town of Rhotia is. When I return to the United States in January, I don’t think that I am going to have a lot of trouble reintegrating ad I do not think I am going to experience reverse culture shock.
Two days ago our group left our camp in Rhotia, Tanzania and travelled to Kimana, Kenya. Here, we are going to spend two weeks learning from the professors at this camp as well as going on two expeditions. The first expedition, which starts tomorrow, travels to Amboseli tional Park. In Amboseli, we are going to be doing bird counts and bird identification. We are collecting data specifically for the national park so that they can assess the status of different bird species within their park. The second expedition, in one week, is in Tsavo West National Park. So far, the transition has been very smooth and I am enjoying the camp in Kimana. Compared to our camp in Tanzania, the camp in Kimana is much larger. We also have a clear view of Mt. Kilimanjaro which is beautiful. The camp in Kenya is also more remote and in the mornings, it’s common to see Vervet Monkeys, Olive Baboons, and other animals such as mongoose. There is also a running loop that circles around the entire campus which is nice. I am excited for the next two weeks in Kenya and it will be exciting to compare the two countries, Kenya and Tanzania. Until next time! Kwehari!
Having been in Tanzania for almost a month now, one of my favorite parts has been interacting with and learning more about the local community. One of our classes on campus is Swahili and I’ve found that it has helped a lot with making it easier to interact with and appreciate the local community and culture. In Tanzania, the culture is mainly tribe based and groups of people trace their heritage to certain clans/tribes. In the area where I am staying, most people are either part of the Iraqw tribe or the Maasai tribe. These two tribes are incredibly different and have had conflict in the past. They also speak unique languages and live in unique houses. One strategy I developed for gaining insight into the culture and community of this area is just speaking the language as much as I possibly can. I’ve actually found that this has improved my Swahili quite a bit and that I am able to hold semi-continuous conversations with locals using basic sentences. Last weekend, I had a one day homestay where I spent the whole day, including all meals, with one local family and their kids. It was an incredible experience because I got to see first hand how people live their daily lives. I also loved playing with the kids in the household. Another strategy I’ve developed since being here is to just spend a lot of time exploring the area. Being friendly to everyone you see is also important. My advice to people wanting to go abroad would be to get out there in the community as much as possible, and try and be friendly and interact with the locals a lot.
Rhotia is a small town in between Karatu and Mtu wa Mbu in Northern Tanzania. The SFS campus is only a 5 minute walk away from the main part of Rhotia. Although Rhotia is a pretty small town, they have a few stores such as a grocery store, a tailor, a bookstore, and a library. I have been to the library a few times now to hang out with some of the local kids. I have also been to the coffee shop in Rhotia a few times. It is a great place to either work or hand out with friends. One thing I have noticed about Rhotia is how friendly everyone is. SFS has had a relationship with the town of Rhotia for close to 10 years and everyone I have met so far has been incredibly welcoming and friendly. Especially the little kids who love to play with my watch and phone. A typical day for me starts when I wake up around 7am. Then I usually have class for 3-5 hours per day. Some of the classes are travelling lectures where we drive around to certain areas and have lectures from different people. Then we usually have some sort of free time where I either go for a run with friends or hang out on campus and read.
Checking in here from Rhotia, Tanzania. I arrived over a week ago and the transition has been fairly smooth. Despite a 3 hour immigration line at Kiliminjaro International Airport and some jet lag, the transition has been really great. The group I am staying with in Rhotia is amazing, everyone is so friendly and welcoming. The first few days were spent getting myself orientated with the surrounding area, meeting my professors, and getting to know my fellow students. The four classes I am taking this semester are Wildlife Management, Wildlife Ecology, Environmental Policy, and Swahili. I’ve only had a few classes so far but they have been compelling, interesting and enlightening. Rhotia is a small town sandwiched between the Serengeti and Tarangire National Parks in northwestern Tanzania. The town of Rhotia is very interesting and the people I have met and talked to so far are very welcoming. I have also been able to practice my Swahili. Last Wednesday we spent the day at Lake Manyara National Park. Some cool pictures are attached below.
Until Next Time,
Hi! My name is Cole Usdan and on Thursday, I’m going to be flying to Tanzania. It will be a long day of travel and I am flying first from New York to Zurich and then from Zurich to Nairobi, Kenya. Lastly, I’ll be taking a smaller flight to Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. Although getting to Tanzania may be difficult, I am extremely excited to finally be going and have been looking forward to it all summer. I also started packing and preparing a few months ago so I am super happy that I am finally going. In Tanzania, I’m going to be studying Wildlife Management and Conservation with the School for Field Studies (SFS). The program is with ~20 other students from around the world. The program is located in western Tanzania near one of their many wildlife-rich national parks. During the program, I will be taking classes in Swahili, wildlife management, conservation, and environmental policy. Additionally, there is a research component to the program where we design our own research projects and conduct them inside the national park. I am super excited for both the academic and research components of my program.
Next, to prepare for my program and new host culture, I have been doing a lot of research on Tanzania and have a few initial impressions of the host culture. I believe Tanzania has an extremely diverse array of cultures centered around different tribal communities. Because of this, I believe that different regions of Tanzania are extremely culturally diverse and may even speak different languages. Historically, I know that coastal Tanzania was once a hub for Arab and Indian trade in the Indian trade. Because of this, areas of Tanzania on the coast and areas of Tanzania far from the coast may be extremely different from each other.
Lastly, One goal that I have for myself during my time abroad is to learn about and experience the diverse Tanzanian cultures. I want to learn about the people, their history, customs, and values. It is important for me to learn about Tanzanian culture because it would feel wrong to be in a country for a long period of time without becoming knowledgeable about their culture. Next, I want to become an expert on the natural environment in Tanzania. Part of the reason I chose to come to Tanzania was the rich and diverse natural environment. I am excited to experience this first hand. One last goal I set for myself during my time abroad is to get to know everyone in our group well and make great friends. I am super excited for my abroad experience and I will make sure to update this blog periodically.