On the Verge of the Big Trip (Safari Njema)

The Spring 2015 Kenya Semester Group leaves tonight for their semester in East Africa. After a 12hr+ layover in Amsterdam, they head south, over the Alps, and across the Mediterranean. Passing through North Africa, they will cross the Sahara, and head over the world’s newest nation South Sudan, before entering Kenya. In the final days before leaving we posed the following two questions to the group and these were their thoughts.

What are you most excited to learn about and experience this semester?

I am excited to learn how my Americanized perceptions of Africa will evolve and change as I experience a modernized Africa. I am most excited to experience the different cultures we will interact with, what with the food, entertainment, ideas, and traditions.

As I packed my duffle this morning, it hit me that most of what I am going to be bringing/wearing/giving away is in this bag; its contents are meant to support me and last me the entire trip (hopefully!). Our departure has come on fast, and I can only imagine that the next four months will pass by even quicker. I am most excited to learn about and experience the culture through the Core Course, as well as the home stays and other opportunities that will arise.

In regards to my coming semester abroad in East Africa, I am most excited to learn from the personal relationships created through homestay, and field component interactions. I feel that I learn best when creating relationships with others where we can learn from each other.

We’re so close to being in Kenya!! What I’m most excited about this semester is being on the other side of the globe, in another country learning about the lives of the people and about the country. I’m excited for the sun and to be in a place that I’ve been reading about for a while.  I’m excited to see and experience the speculation Kenya Kenyans and people around the world love.

I am most excited to learn about the Hadza hunter-gathers in Tanzania because they are the last of a dying culture in the continent and in the world. Humans as a race have forgotten what it is like to hunt and forage for their daily meal, and experiencing this lifestyle with the Hadza is an opportunity that might not be available in the near future with all the land-policy changes in Tanzania.

What are you most anxious about as you pack your bags and set off for 4+ months in East Africa?

I am most anxious about all the little details we have to make sure we have in order. Do I have my malaria pills, do I have my visa, passport, health card, readings, a headlamp, boarding passes?

I’m nervous about learning and speaking Kiswahili because it is an entirely new language for me and it takes me a while to grasp language concepts. But my goal is to be able to hold a basic conversation with people by the end of the semester…so we’ll see how that goes!

As I prepare to pack for the longest time I have lived outside the U.S., I am most anxious about having all the “little things” that will deem most important if a time comes when they are needed, such as medicines. Yet, even with such anxieties I am comforted by my dog (Sadie) who has not left my side throughout the whole packing extravaganza!

Packing makes me anxious! Am I going to have enough soap, skirts, or bras?  Well probably not!  But that’s the beauty of leaving for 4+ months.  What I’m anxious about the most is being lonely. Loneliness can take over anyone even with a room filled with people and I worry about it all the time. I wanna make friends and have fun with the group because they’ll always be there, just like the staff.

I am most anxious about speaking with Kenyans and not appearing as an “ignorant American”. I have never been to any African countries before so I know the culture shock will be very real. Will Kenyans look at our American student group with happiness or disgust? I usually have negative attitudes towards tourists in New York City since I know the area so well. It makes me wonder if Kenyans look on their tourists the same way.

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