Adapting to Life in East Africa

I am now 5 and a half months into my internship. With only 1 weeks left it makes you wonder where all the time went. It astounds me how quickly the latter half of my internship has gone. I recall the first months slugging by. I wonder to myself- what is the difference between now and back then?

As I have become comfortable with my daily routine here in Dar es Salaam, time seems to move very quickly. There is no doubt a correlation between comfortability and the passing of time-this is synonymous anywhere in the world. With that being said, here in Tanzania, comfortability is not so easily reached. I have forced myself to push my boundaries to smoothen the transition to a new place. These “tricks”, or coping mechanisms, are what I wish to share with you today. These actions can be applied universally. That is not to say that they are the be all and end all, I am only saying these are things I consciously did to help me adapt to life in East Africa.

There is no better way to feel out a new place then to escape the confine of your apartment and walk around. Take time to notice all the intricacies around you- the people, the buildings, the wildlife etc. I would walk aimlessly, stopping by different vendors along my undetermined path. Whatever your mind state was pre-walk, it is bound to change post-walk. Walking also helps you discover things that you would otherwise have no clue existed. For example, I found out that I lived 3 blocks away from a great fruit market, not only that, I stumbled across a cheap appliance store that sold blenders. I am now the smoothie king. Walking is one of the best ways to understand a new place, although it seems rather simple and intuitive, do not under value it.

Dar
Streets of Dar es Salaam
  • Be involved in community activities

Community activities are a great way to meet new people and build a sense of belonging.

Soccer
Valhalla Football Club

The extent of extra curricular activities available in Dar astounded me. I was naïve to think that there would be no such activities available. Concerts, plays, food festivals, and almost every sport you can think of, are widely available. Here I was 6 months ago foolishly saying to myself: “I wont need my basketball shoes, Ill just leave them”, now, I play basketball every wednesday and occasionally on weekends. I found myself playing soccer twice a week, basketball once a week, and surprisingly enough, ball hockey once a week. As a sports fan, naturally I gravitated to any available sporting activity. If sports aren’t your thing, there are still plenty of activities you can do to achieve the same result. The point being is that you must actively seek them out. Take a chance, join a league, join the theatre, head to a soccer game, go to that random concert- you wont regret it.

 

  • Never pass up a beer
Beer
Safari in Rural TZ

Of course this is a figure of speech. The underlying principle is simply never pass up an invitation. No matter the situation or how tired you are, just show up. It goes a long way.

 

These are things I actively did outside of work to better my placement abroad. A personal life is very important, especially in another country. Whether it is playing an underwater hockey game (Don’t ask) or simply walking around a neighbourhood you’ve never been to, no matter what you do, sitting at home does more harm than good.

 

 

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