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.
We just got back to Kenya a few days ago–it was so nice seeing everyone again and moving back into KBC! We just finished taking our three finals and learned what directed research we will be doing over the next month. I am going to be working with one of the professors and two other students in Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary nearby to develop a tourism management plan for the sanctuary where we will ultimately develop a natural history guide that the sanctuary can provide to tourists.
Here are some pictures from our mid-semester break in Moshi:
Went on a waterfall hike where we also got to tour a coffee farm and learn how coffee is produced. We learned a lot about the Chaga people in this area and their history. They represent the third largest ethnic group in Tanzania and live on/near the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Bananas are one of their staple foods and we saw tons of banana trees throughout the hike. This dog followed us from the beginning of the hike until we got to the waterfall…we called him Simba–so cute! We got to go super close to the waterfall which was huge and everyone got soaked from the mist spraying off of it. The hike was a mix of both Kenyan and Tanzanian students so we got to meet some new people and our guide Godwin was also really nice/interesting.
Once we got to the coffee farm we had a traditional Chaga meal that they prepared for us before we learned the process of roasting coffee beans, which we actually got to do. Once we finished, we all had a cup of coffee together. The coffee tasted amazing and we also all did a “shot” of the roasted coffee beans mixed with sugar that was super good!
Once we got back to Kenya it was the Day of the Dead so my friend from Mexico City helped us set up an alter in the chumba (our dining room/classroom) where everyone put offerings. We also made the special Day of the Dead bread for dinner.
We went to a nearby artist’s house here in Rhotia to learn the style of batik painting, originally from Indonesia, which uses layers of wax and dyes on cloth. The artist was an older man and his wife that were super nice–he told us how he has traveled all over the world teaching this art style. When I asked him where his favorite place that he has traveled was, he told me it was Spain because of the food. Their whole house was covered with their artwork which was all so beautiful.
On our latest expedition we went to the Ngorogoro Crate, which is a volcanic caldera that formed about 2.5 million years ago when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed on itself forming the giant crater that you can now drive into and explore. It is the world’s largest inactive, unbroken and unfilled volcanic caldera.
Here is one of the hippo pools in Ngorogoro Crater. There were SO many hippos relaxing in the pool and every so often they would do a flip and float on their backs for a second with their legs in the air which was so cute (one of them is doing it in the picture)!
This is in Serengeti National Park where we camped for two nights. We spent a lot of time on game drives throughout the park where we saw a lot of cheetahs and lions very close to the cars. Serengeti National Park is famous for the large migration of wildebeest and zebra that occurs within the park every year consisting of over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebra migrating each year based on the short rains and the long rains occurring in different areas.
On our way back from Serengeti we stopped at the Oldupai museum at the Oldupai Gorge which is a really important archaeological site due to the human remains found here and their significance in explaining the development of early humans. We stopped and had lunch at this amphitheater overlooking the gorge while one of the museum curators gave us an overview of the area and its importance as well as its continued use as an important archaeological research site where people from universities all over the world travel here to conduct research throughout the year.
Here is one of the many lizards we saw throughout the expedition–so colorful! We learned a lot about lizards and other reptiles because one of the professors here’s research is focused on them.
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.
The gate to the SFS center here in Tanzania–Moyo Hill. The center here is right in town which is a lot different than the Kenyan center which is an hour walk from town. We are super busy and are camping for most of our time here in Tanzania in the surrounding national parks but whenever we do have free time we have been exploring the town.
We took a walk up the hill right next to the center where we got an amazing view of the surrounding area. Everything is a lot greener here compared to where we are in Kenya especially since it has been raining a lot here recently. The staff told us that the rains started about two weeks before we arrived and everything has been a lot greener since.
A dung beetle we saw on our walk– crazy how they can push a ball of dung that is 50 X their weight!
This is in Tarangire National Park which is one of the parks we went to on our first expedition. Here we are performing an elephant count to help one of the professors with data collection for an ongoing study he is involved in.
We went on a night walk with one of the professors around our campsite and saw so many scorpions which glow when you shine a UV light on them but without the light blend in really well…we used the light to check our tents after the walk because they can crawl in if you leave the zipper open a crack. We also saw a chameleon and got to hold it!
This is a boardwalk over a hot spring in Lake Manyara National Park where we went on the last day of our expedition. The whole area smelled very sulfury and we got to touch water from the hot spring.
We had a free morning where we went to a nearby town for a knife painting class with a local artist–Sule. All of his artwork was amazing and there were so many artist stands in the town. Tomorrow we are going to do another class in another style where you use wax and dyes on clothe. I really like learning how to make some of the different styles that we have been seeing.
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,