A quick update

Trip Start Jan 23, 2014
Trip End May 03, 2014

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Flag of Tanzania  , District of Columbia,
Thursday, February 6, 2014

This week has been great so far! Having studied abroad before, I am not anticipating homesickness until around the 1.5/2 month mark, so while I am hoping that I wont feel that way at all, I am also just living life totally free of homesickness right now.

I am writing this blog entry at 12:30pm on Thursday, since class got out a bit early today. My stomach is eagerly anticipating lunch (anyone who knows me personally will know how true THAT is..) so this extra time is throwing me off a little bit.

I am sitting\laying in my hammock, listening to the bird calls around me. I am only able to pick out a few so far, but just listening to the variety is delightful. There is a slight breeze, and my hammock is gently swaying in the wind. We have been having Swahili class pretty regularly this week, and our Tanzanian teacher is awesome - never before have I experienced someone teach a language so clearly or concisely! It will be challenging to master the vocabulary, but you get out what you put in, so I am preparing myself to work hard.

Today, however, we don't have Swahili because right after lunch we are heading into Iringa Town to have a tour of Neema Craft - a local cafe/store that only sells products made by native Tanzanians with disabilities, and they only employees in the cafe are deaf - so you have to write your order on a paper. I will know a lot more AFTER the tour, so stay posted :)

This will be my last entry for awhile - I'm not exactly sure when we will make it to town again, since as a part of our Human Ecology course we will be traveling to a Bush Camp outside of Ruaha National Park, to talk with local villagers about the impact OF Bush Camps on their economies and communities.

Essentially, a Bush Camp is a protected campsite for tent camping outside of a National Park, usually run by a national. In order to have a camp WITHIN a park, the owners of the site must pay exorbitant fees - so the only places to stay within the park are luxury safari lodges, run by (usually) europeans who don't interact much with the villages surrounding the park. Bush camps dont have to pay those in-park fees, so it is MUCH less expensive to visit the parks by day and camp at a bush camp by night.

Human Ecology is another term that I didn't really know before this program - so for those of you who are curious - Human Ecology is the study of humans and their environments. So, studying the interactions between villagers and bush camps - which are tied intimately with the parks they surround - fits the bill pretty well.

It will be challenging to camp for a week though, the ground seems to get harder every night, even with a sleeping mat underneath. Still, it is an opportunity that I am extremely grateful to have. I can sleep on a mattress as much as I want to in the States :P

Stay safe and have a great week everybody! I'll check back in when time permits!
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