Spring Travel Update: Living Abroad in Tanzania
In my last travel update, I wrote about expat life in Tanzania after relocating to Mwanza to conduct my thesis research on gender equity.
At that time, I had just finished backpacking solo from South African to Tanzania so I was enjoying some downtime to establish a new routine in my new home.
Overall, the experience of living abroad in Tanzania for nearly one year now has been very positive. I love the social and playful nature of Tanzanian culture, I like the challenge of learning a new language and I enjoy the low-pressure lifestyle I live here (in comparison to the fast-paced culture of North America).
The beautiful lake-side location of Mwanza continues to stun me on a daily basis and I like that the city centre doesn’t feel too urban. I can walk almost everywhere and can easily find fresh produce on almost every corner, making it quite easy to stay healthy and vegan.
Interestingly, my biggest adjustments to living abroad in Tanzania seemed to be to the exact things I love about the country. At times, I still find it tough to embrace the pole pole (slow) lifestyle and adapt to the infuriatingly slow internet. I sometimes get extreme fatigue and headaches from working in a new language and often really struggle with the noise.
While I will never get used to the noise (thank goodness for good noise cancelling headphones), I have definitely become a more adaptable and flexible person.
Unfortunately there were a few situations out of my control, which significantly impacted my work here. My ethics application for research took 4 months longer than anticipated, pushing my study back as I couldn’t start until I received this clearance. By the time I had finally received my permit, it was almost time to come home for Christmas.
Then I ran out of passport pages and had to travel to the embassy in Nairobi to renew my Canadian passport. That entire process took a month, so again the study was pushed back. By the time I finally started making good progress, my thesis submission deadline was coming up. I knew I wouldn’t finish everything on time and risked not graduating with my class.
Yet I knew that in order to remain true to the style of research I’m doing, I simply could not finish by the deadline. I didn’t want to cut corners. Although this felt like a huge failure, I chose to reframe it. Thankfully I can take an extra semester to complete the writing this fall.
I needed more time and I received it. That is a gift, not a failure.
There is nothing without challenge, yet with challenge there is growth.
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