I realized that I hadn’t done a post about everyday life here yet and I figured there is no time like the present! We live in bandas (small houses/cabins) each named after an animal and separated into a left and right side. I live in tembo (elephant) right with three other students. It’s tight quarters with lots of surprises. We usually have a couple of extra visitors in our room. We have a banda gecko that we spot every couple of days and always a ton of crickets. The crickets here are HUGE. They are also super loud and often disturb our classes. Right now we are in the midst of the rainy season and tembo right has a slug infestation. They are everywhere! It’s impossible to stop them from getting in so we are all kind of used to it now. But I found one on my raincoat inside my backpack the other day and it was pretty unpleasant.
Anyways, every morning we have breakfast at 7:30am. We have rotating cook crews that help make breakfast and clean up after dinner every day. So if I’m lucky then I won’t be on cook crew, because then I would need to be in the kitchen at 6:30am, and I’m so not a morning person. Breakfast usually consists of: toast, eggs, beans, oatmeal, fruit and these Tanzanian crepe things. I try to get more creative with my breakfast and add tabasco to my eggs, chocolate syrup to my crepe, and maple syrup to my oatmeal. The food can get pretty boring after a while so we are all always trying to add new flavors to it.
After breakfast we usually have class from 8am to noon. All 42 of us have class at the same time in the same room. My usual class size at Whitman is around 10 people so this was a big change. The classes are all lecture based and I really miss having discussions so I’m definitely looking forward to that at school again. After class we have lunch, usually something like pasta, beans, some veggies, and potatoes. Again pretty bland stuff. One time one of our professors (who eat meals with us because they also live at camp with us) brought out some sriracha that he had been hiding and I couldn’t help it and stole a bit for my rice. It was so amazing!!
After lunch we have a couple of hours free. I usually either walk to the tailor downtown to get some cool clothes made. I get fabric for around $10 and then can get something like pants made just for me for $5 so it’s definitely a good investment. I’ve probably spent most of my money on clothes and food on this trip and I’m really happy about it! I also like to walk to my host family’s house. We recently had day-long homestays with a local family in the area, I’ll write about that in my next post.
When I visit my host family I help them out with house chores (from cooking, doing laundry, to sorting beans), and try to practice some Swahili. I’m really bad at the language and SFS doesn’t put a lot of effort into teaching it to us so our conversations are usually just lots of hand gestures but we still have a great time!
After our break we have class until the late afternoon and then the rest of the day is our own. After afternoon classes we like to play pickup soccer with the staff and some locals. We also have a volleyball net at camp and we recently had a tournament. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate sports, nevertheless I joined a team and oddly enough we won! As a reward one of our professors gave us all free soda from the little shop we have here at camp called the duka. The soda here comes in glass bottles and they have at least four different flavors of fanta (my favorites are the pineapple, and passionfruit flavors).
We have a lot of free time until dinner every night which is at 7pm. After we eat there is a presentation called KARP, which stands for: kiswahili, announcements, reflection, and presentation. One student leads it each night and they ask reflection questions like rose, bud, thorn? Or what has been your most challenging experience here? And then they do a presentation on a topic of their choosing. I did mine of Environmental Humanities and Thoreau, because nearly everyone here is a science major and has no idea what either of those two things are. It’s really cool to hear about everyone’s backgrounds and stories.
After dinner if we don’t have a big day the next day we will have a movie night on the porch. We all arrange ourselves in front of a big wall where we project a movie. We had a Harry Potter marathon over a couple of days where we watched a movie every night. It’s a nice way to fight homesickness and the staff here had never seen it and got really into it. One of the drivers quotes Snape all the time now, when he sees us reading he will say “turn to page 394,” and stuff like that.
We all go to bed pretty early here, because we are usually exhausted, but every day holds something new and exciting even if it is a mellow day at camp. Life here is pretty hard to explain and there are things that are normal here that would be strange anywhere else. There are always birds, bugs, and mice everywhere on camp, the power is usually out, and I haven’t read the news in far too long, but I love it here!