Monday, March 5, 2012

Daily Life in Dar

It’s almost our spring break here (time is going by really fast now) and I feel like I’ve gotten into a pretty regular rhythm here so I thought I’d put up a post of just some aspects of daily life here.  

I’m staying at the university in Dar which is kind of a different world from the rest of the city.  It’s a lot less hectic, really green, spacious and pretty safe, at least during the day. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday we have classes and on Tuesday and Thursday everyone goes to their internships.  The classes I’m taking are Development Perspectives, African International Relations and Foreign Policy, Swahili, History of East Africa and Internship class. It took about 3 weeks from when classes were supposed to start to when they actually did. Now, classes are going on pretty normally.  However, we sometimes do get the situation where professors just won’t show up and you have to call them to ask them if they are coming or if we should reschedule class. 

As terrible as this might sound, it’s almost halfway through the semester but I still don’t exactly feel like I’m in school mode and for the few times we’ve had assignments so far, it’s been quite a battle to try and get them done. All of our finals here are 60% of the grade and the other 40% is usually a paper, presentation and maybe a smaller test. Apart from the other CIEE students, we’re taking classes with some other students from the US, and also students from Finland and Korea. There are also other international students on campus but most of them are either on separate programs or taking classes with the Tanzanian students here. The semester for the university here is pretty different than ours and for the past 3 weeks they had their equivalent of winter break. Because of this, the campus has been really empty since most people went home. This week though most everyone is back.   

On Tuesdays and Thursdays everyone in the program has their own individual internships. For mine, I’m doing a research project for the engineering school here. My project is on water quality of community water supplies in areas in the outer perimeter of the city. So far, the main part of my internship has been trying to jump a bunch of administrative hurdles just to even do this project.  I won’t get too into it in this post but for the most part I think I have most of that behind and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m actually taking samples and testing them which is pretty exciting.

So I’m also living in the dorms on campus with a Tanzanian roommate. I’ve had the room to myself the past couple weeks because she went home for the break. The first couple weeks in the dorms were interesting. There were constant water shortages and we always had to get water from the tank outside and carry it up to our rooms for showers.  There was a time when there was a huge shortage of water on the entire campus for about a week.  Even the tanks ran out of water.  When the water runs out the worst thing probably is the toilets get absolutely disgusting since there is nothing to flush them.  In the dorms, we have normal toilets and on campus there are mainly squat toilets.  When water runs out in the dorms, it’s usually actually more sanitary to go to the squat toilets. However, when there was no water on campus, even the squat toilets became disgusting and you always seemed to get a nice whiff of sewage wherever you went.  When most of the campus left for break, we’ve had water the whole time so it’s been quite a luxury.  Now, most students are coming back so we’ll see how the water if we start getting shortages again or not.  

Power is also another thing that’s quite unreliable here. It’s gone out a couple of times on campus.  And now, since we’re going into the rainy season, it seems to be going out more from the storms.
During the week, I don’t really venture out to explore the city or anything, besides going to collect samples for my internship, mostly because it’s such a hassle to get anywhere here.  Getting anywhere usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half. The thing is most places aren’t even that far away. Traffic is just so bad here that most of the time we’re not even moving for 20 minutes at a time.   

So during class days, I guess here’s what a typical day for me is.  On MWF, my classes start at 8am.  Getting up early here isn’t that big of a deal since I feel like I get a good amount of sleep.  Also, usually since about 6:30am the dorms are already filled with sounds of crying babies, cleaning ladies yelling and people blasting club music and I’m usually already awake by the time my alarm goes off. On Monday and Wednesday, we gather around in a circle on the floor at Jenny’s and learn some Swahili with our awesome teacher Paulo.  We were told that we couldn’t hold our lessons on campus because our teacher isn’t part of the university so we have to have it at Jenny’s. Then we have a small break and I usually go to the café on campus to get my daily hot milk with coffee and donut.  After that, we go to where the rest of our classes are, Room 15 to sweat (and maybe do a little bit of learning). For lunch we usually go to one of the cafeterias and usually just get rice and beans (with veggies and cabbage if I’m lucky).  When I go back to the dorms, I don’t really do too much, mostly just do some reading and occasionally go for a run or attempt to hand wash some of my clothes.  After it’s dark there’s really no where to go on campus and it’s also not that smart to be walking around alone then so it occasionally gets a bit boring at night.

During the weekend, though I try and get off campus as much as possible since it’s almost impossible to do so during the week.  A lot of our weekends so far have been planned trips through CIEE.  The weekends we have off though are usually a combination of going to one of the beaches here and trying to explore the city.  Dar is pretty massive or at least it seems like it since it takes so long to get anywhere. Most of my adventuring about the city revolves around trying to find a good place to get food and exploring the area around that. In general, Dar is filled with amazing restaurants and full of good vegetarian options too.  So far, I’ve tried a couple really good Indian places, an Ethiopian restaurant, a couple surprisingly good Italian places and this past weekend a Turkish place.

Anyways, this next week is spring break and I’m going to attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (6 more days)! I’m starting to psyche myself out right now since it’s so close so wish me luck!

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