I’ve been here, in Arusha Tanzania, for 6 days now, and to be absolutely honest, as of right now, I want to stay here forever. I am absolutely in love with this entire experience so far and after visiting over 15 countries in the last couple of years, I’ve never felt more at home than I do here, even though it is the most different. What strikes me about this country, well from what I have seen of it so far, is the environment, everything is so unbelievably lush, healthy, green and absolutely stunning. Yesterday (along with the WUSC staff at the head office), we visited a beautiful small village, took a gorgeous hike, planted trees with the people of the village, picked coffee beans, roasted it from scratch and saw a lot of what there is outside the city. It did not at all feel as though we were tourists, we were just guests having a gathering for the day. I genuinely thought I might tear up about how NATURALLY beautiful it was everywhere I turned. The fact that there are very few tourists, in fact I have not seen any obvious ones yet, is plus for me, because it really allows me to witness the authenticity of the country and culture - one of the most vibrant I have ever been around.
The people here are as vibrant as the environment and I feel incredibly fortunate that I have witnessed very, very little social exclusion from being a foreigner. Although, I do get the occasional “muzungu”, white person, but from what I’ve experienced it is not meant to be mean because people continue to smile and greet me. The culture here is incredible for it’s social aspects, constantly greeting and being in large groups of friends and family during all moments of the day. We have had a couple of Swahili lessons and I’m stunned by how much I have picked up already. I can talk to people simply without having to use English, which is an element I really want to focus on learning. People are unbelievably welcoming (and proud) and I constantly find myself conversing, eating and, especially, JOKING with the nationals - the humour here is absolutely fabulous, I have laughed more in a week than I have in a very long time!
Economically, it is challenging to see how impoverished people are, but also a clear eye opener. I try my best to spend the absolute minimum I can, to gain a little more perspective. I have had a tone of extremely cheap street food (I took the chance and geez am I happy I did!). Knock on wood I haven’t been sick yet, but I’ve probably had a dozen meals from the local places and I am in awe at how delicious one can make meat taste!
All in all, personally, I have never felt so much as though I am in the right place for me, and my only regret so far is only being able to stay 3 months. HOWEVER! I am fully aware that I’m at the peak of my excitement now, but might as well express it while it’s all still positive!!