As I drove to the airport just a week ago – though it seems like a lifetime ago – I couldn’t contain my nervous excitement and energy, even at 5 AM. I knew that after just a day’s worth of travelling, I would be somewhere I had always dreamt of being.
Among the excitement over meeting new people, obtaining new experiences, and learning more about Wildlife Management and Conservation, I had hopes of this trip to Tanzania furthering my understanding of who I am and who I want to be in the future. However, I definitely didn’t expect so much reflection and experience to come in just the first week.
As I met some classmates in the airport on our way to Tanzania, I could tell that the month would be great. Everyone I have met has been unbelievably welcoming, accepting, and fun. I have formed relationships that I never thought I could in just a week’s worth of time, including friendships with my classmates, faculty, and local staff members at the School for Field Studies’ Center for Wildlife Management Studies at Moyo Hill in Rhotia.
Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I have been forming great friendships and relationships more and more every day. I feel as though I have known some of the people around me for so long in my life, which has made it increasingly hard to believe that I’ve only been here in Africa for a week.
Dreaming of the plains, forests, deserts, towns, and everything else on this continent for as long as I can remember, there has always been a small part of me that has been worried that if I visited Africa, it would have no chance to live up to my expectations that have been built up over the years.
However, the beauty that I have seen and experienced in this amazing country in just a few days has already blown everything that I ever assumed wide open. Nothing can quite prepare a person for the real views they will see when they truly push themselves to chase their dreams. As we drove from Arusha to our “camp,” I stared in awe at the rolling green landscapes and cultural sights of this region of Tanzania.
My heart has lifted and all stress in my mind has melted away in ways I did not think they could. I left home after a few very stressful nights full of deep feelings and emotions that I am not going to detail in this blog. However, I will say that in just a week of seeing the world’s beauty in new ways, I have discovered parts of myself and coped with different issues internally throughout all these experiences.
As I’ve formed relationships and seen the awe-inspiring views around me, I have been able to view my past, present, and future in new ways that have sparked flames inside me and an excitement for the future that I haven’t felt in quite awhile. All this blogging and I haven’t even mentioned the amazing animals and experiences I had just yesterday in Lake Manyara National Park, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking for those aspects.
I have already had some of the best days of my life this past week, so I can’t even imagine what is to come over the next three weeks of my stay here. More to come.