Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Beginning

Alright so I’ve been here for almost a week now and a lot has happened.  I arrived to Dar on the 12th and so far we’ve just been in orientation this whole time. Orientation has mostly been 2-3 hours of Swahili everyday along with some other activity afterwards.  The first three days here we were put into a really nice hotel right by the ocean to sort of ease us into life here.  The first day was mostly logistics, expectations and safety here.  The day after we had our first Swahili lesson on the beach on an island so not too bad of a start. The ocean here is absolutely beautiful and the clearest and bluest water I’ve ever seen. It’s been really hot and humid here (this is the hottest time of year in Tanzania). To give an example, when we were on the beach my sandals fell apart/ melted because of the heat.

The next day we had our Swahili lesson in the morning again and spent the rest of the afternoon moving into the dorms.  It was really hot and we helped each other move our luggage up to all the floors.  Then we had lunch and did a walking tour of the campus after which everyone was ridiculously tired.  The campus is pretty big and really green.  It essentially looks like a jungle botanical garden with some buildings scattered around.  Most of the buildings are pretty simple although one of the campus buildings is national landmark. Another awesome thing about campus: MONKEYS! They’re pretty much everywhere. However I’ve learned they are not very friendly when you approach then.

The dorms on campus are pretty basic.  We all got mosquito nets for sleeping and buckets and cups to do laundry and to shower when there’s no water.  The first two nights there was no water so what we do is go outside to the big storage tanks of water, fill our bucket up, bring it up to your floor (I live on the 4th which is actually the 5th) and enjoy your bucket shower, which is actually really refreshing after you’re all sweaty from carrying the bucket up.  Yesterday the water was on so we had the luxury of a real shower.  Today there’s no water again so it’s back to the bucket. 

On Monday we had our first 3 hour Swahili session in the actual classroom on campus and afterwards we went to Mwenge which is one of the markets.  A couple other girls and I got a text saying to come back right afterwards so we can meet with people from our internship. My internship is going to be at the engineering school here in the Construction Department so I guess I won’t be escaping engineering this semester after all. We took a tour of the engineering buildings and labs and I also met with the head of the department.  I don’t exactly know what I’m going to be doing though but I am pretty excited. It will be interesting to be interning at the engineering campus because there’s very few females in engineering here.  Polycarp (one of the Tanzanian CIEE staff) was telling me that in a normal engineering class there’s maybe 1 girl.  Anyways I need to go back to meet with some other professor to set up my schedule. I guess he was sick with malaria when we first went on Monday.
Yesterday I wasn’t feeling so good.  It worked out though because after Swahili, I had the rest of the day off since most of the people were going to meet their internships.  I just ended up sleeping and hanging out in my room for the rest of the day. 

And that brings us to today.  We had Swahili in the morning as usual and afterwards we went to the US Embassy here.  We met with some of the people there and they talked to us more about safety, health and cultural differences here.  Then we heard about USAID programs here and about being a Foreign Service Officer.  It was pretty interesting especially since I’ve definitely thought about being a Foreign Service Officer before. However, it seems like one of those things that once you’re in it there’s not much turning back.

I just had dinner with my roommate now.  She’s from Tanzania and goes to school here.  She’s really nice but super busy now as most people here are.  The semester for the university is ending soon so people are studying like crazy for finals now. 

Anyways this was a super long post but I think that’s it for now.

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