Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday 9/21

Hola! (I actually responded with that the other day after a local boy said 'Jambo!' to me... people here have yet to let me live that one down...)

Currently I'm sitting in my hammock watching people finish up lunch and utilize their free time before class (internet pooped out as I was typing this so it is now after dinner...) reflecting on the last few days. I've had some great experiences since I last posted: on Saturday we did community service at a local orphanage and yesterday (Monday) we had class in Tarangire National Park. I'll post some pictures in the near future, as I have a million words and seeing how a picture is worth a thousand words that will cut down on some typing.
I thought that this would be a good time to address some questions you all have been asking me and feel free to keep them coming. It's actually really hard to just blog about my time here as it's so full of awesome-ness, your questions give me a good starting point.
What medications have you been taking?
I'm not taking any other medications besides mefloquine once a week for malaria (actually tonight is my night to take it this week...) I do have regular medicine and pills like midol, advil, pepto bismol, cough drops, dayquil for smaller ailments, but nothing that was prescribed. Actually, that's a lie, I do have anti-diarrhea medication from my doctor but I haven't had to use that yet and hopefully won't have to, knock on wood!
Drinking water - bottled or filtered?
The water here at camp goes through an intense filtration system so we are able to drink it out of the tap but anywhere else we only drink bottled water or water that we brought from camp with us. No ice chewing in Africa for me, maybe I'll be able to break that habit, eh?
What's the weather/temperature like?
It's actually quite cold here in the morning and at night... I'm not sure of the exact temperature (maybe 50?) but I have to sleep in sweats and wear pants for most of the day until the sun breaks through the clouds around 1:00pm and then it's VERY hot (maybe 90?) but as soon as the sun disappears the temp goes back down and on go the sweatshirts again! East Africa doesn't have seasons like we do in New England, instead they have a short rain season, a long rain season, and the dry season. Right now it's on the tail end of the dry season, and we will be here for the beginning of the short rain season which gets under way in October and will remain until we leave. It's sprinkled a few times since being here, but not enough to need a rain jacket or anything.
What kind of program are you in and how will it relate to your future career as a teacher?
I'm here with a program called the School for Field Studies (accredited through Boston University) and the Kenya/Tanzania program that I am in concentrates on wildlife management and conservation. As many of you know this is my last semester before I student teach and then graduate. I only needed one 200-level science course this semester to graduate so instead taking a bunch of courses that would have only been electives I decided to study abroad. Both WM and WE (courses that I described last post) satisfy my science requirement so this program is not only wicked cool but actually is going towards my major and helping graduate. Also this is a great experience that I will be able to share with my future students, as it is related to science (which is what I will be teaching...).

Are the other students in undergraduate or graduate programs?
Every student here are all undergrads from universities all over the United States either in their junior or senior year with a major that wildlife management somehow pertains to. Most have majors such as environmental science/studies or biology. I'm one of the few whose major doesn't tie directly in with our courses, but because I basically have a minor in Biology I've been well prepared for the courses here. I'm also one of the older ones here too, as most the students here are studying abroad during their junior year. So far I really like it here... it's a truly great program that is very catered to my personal interests and it's great because that's the case with everyone else here too. Even though we all come from different places and have different backgrounds we are all similar in the sense that we all chose this program and are very passionate about what we are learning about; it creates a great atmosphere for learning and sharing.
Are your professors on sabbatical or grants?
I'm unsure of the specifics for each professor but here's what I do know... they are all Tanzanian or Kenyan. Our WM professor has a PhD and has actually went to university in Minnesota. He specializes in lions and yesterday while at Tarangire he showed us his research camp and equipment and was able to explain some of his research to us. Both our WE and EP professors have been to many universities and are very educated in their respected areas. Our Swahili professor is the youngest and even he has been to a local university for Swahili/English. Our social culture professor has little educational background but is actually a member of the Maasai so we are obviously learning what we need to from him and his personal experiences and culture.  
Are you homesick?
As much as I love it here, I do have to admit that I'm a little homesick. I miss being able to just throw my laundry in the washer and then be able to dry it... all within 2 hours! I did my first laundry load yesterday, or should I say one of the local mamas did - we have a system where we pay them around $3.50 to do a big bucket of laundry and they get it much cleaner than any of us could! - and it's STILL drying and probably still will be tomorrow and possibly the day after too. I miss cheese! Never again will I take a block of Cabot Cheddar for granted! I miss Red Sox games (even though they sucked this year, I still miss them!) I miss being able to pig out on a half a bag of M&Ms and only feeling guilty for eating too much... now I also get to deal with the guilt of eating half of my candy stash for the next three months! I miss texting! I miss being able to call my family and friends... almost as much as I miss all of them!
Being here is quite an adaptation... but I pretty much squelch all of my complaining with the reminder that I'M IN AFRICA and remember how great it is to be here and that I'm living an amazing once in a lifetime experience and I get over it.

So yea... I hope those answers help you all understand my life here more than you had previously. As I said earlier, keep the questions coming!  I'll post some pictures later on (I saw cheetahs and a lion!) so you'll be able to see more of what I've been doing here.

xoxo Z

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