Implications of tourism in Tanzania

My study abroad experience was wonderful.There is no way I will be able to fully express it through writing.The full extent of my experience and feelings will remain with me in memory. During my journey I kept a detailed personal journal where I documented my experience. I may not include all the details in this particular essay. However, I will try to express somethings.

I first visited Kenya before going to Tanzania for my study abroad. I boarded the plane headed to Kenya my home country about a week before my study abroad. Kenya was absolutely wonderful. I reconnect with family that I had not seen in eight to ten years. I visited my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Although it was many years since I have been to Kenya, I instantly reconnected with family. Talking and interacting with family was as if resuming a conversation that had just been put on pause for a while, as if no time had passed between then and the time we last met. They were all ecstatic to see me. I travelled from Nairobi to Nyandarua to Mombasa, to Kapsabet. Kenya has changed and grown a lot, it’s wonderful! I truly cannot express the joy and experience I had in Kenya. These memories and feelings will remain with me.

After my week in Kenya, I boarded a bus headed to Arusha, Tanzania. The traveling time was about four hours. The view was wonderful, hills,plains and wild animals spread out. A student who was part of the study abroad group had also decided to visit Kenya. So we took the bus to Tanzania together. Four hours later we arrived and got picked up and driven to where we were to stay.

During the first four days, we were hosted by a small college. During this time, we explored the environment to get a feel of Tanzania. The rest of the students got a small crash course in Swahili, since I already knew Swahili, I helped them out a bit.
After that week, we started to travel to different parts of Tanzania. Most of our time in Tanzania was spent exploring and discussing the discourse surround ecotourism. We were not in a formal classroom. We learned about the positive and the negative aspects of ecotourism. We started in Maji ya Chai we traveled to Arusha National park to Lake Natron Conservation to Serengeti National Park to Ngorongoro Conservation Area and to Loliondo.

The positives aspects of ecotourism is that wild animals are conserved and not invaded upon by humans and people get an opportunity to visit and view the wild life. However, there is a down side to ecotourism. First, animals are glorified more that people. When tourists go to Africa, the majority only go on Safari to see animals, yet they never take the time to actually interact and know the people of Africa. When tourists visit Europe, they go and see human creation, human architecture, when tourist visit Africa, they only go to see wild life. Negative stereotypes concerning African people emerge due a lack of interaction and understanding on part of the tourist. Second, tourism lodges are so expensive that only rich people, mostly from Europe and America, can afford. Third, the conservation areas were designated and made by European nations, it’s not the Tanzanian government who made the conservation areas. This shown the colonialist connotation that the conservation areas have. Who said that European nations are the only ones who know how to conserve and take care of animals? Animals are designated such as huge area of land by the guidelines of European counties, while the Maasai people’s land is getting snatched away from them by conservation workers and investors. That is ridiculous. No one tells Europe and America what to do with their land. As we were speaking with the Maasai people of Tanzania, we leaned that the Maasai have their own mechanics on how they protect and conserve the animals. Each clan looks out to conserve a particular animal, this is their way to be stewards of the land that they acknowledge was given to them by God. I strongly agree with them.

My favorite part of my study abroad experience was meeting the people of Tanzania. I truly do miss the people. I miss the people I met when I went to church. They were so welcoming. Church service was wonderful, just like in Kenya, just like in the U.S. I ate lunch with them, joined their choir practice in the afternoon and was invited to visit by two ladies. I had a wonderful time, I miss them. The members of the Pastoral Woman’s Council (PWC) were great. They are a strong organization that empowers their community. There is so much I can say about them, but I need to summarize. The experience I had with them I will never forget. They educate the community regarding money, they educate the community by running a high school, they also fight against injustice regarding land by education the community about their rights.

The students that we met were also wonderful. They reminded me of my experience when I went to school in Kenya. They were very friendly, I made friends with them. We played, laughed and talked together. The people that hosted us were also so wonderful. I had a great time with them. They directed me on how to get African Style clothing tailored. We spoke about the differences between Tanzania and Kenya. We laughed and made jokes. I really connected with them well. It was great to be with my fellow Africans. There is just something wonderful about being with people like you, people who really understand you.

One of my goals is to travel to as many African counties as possible and interact with the wonderful people and see the wonderful treasure that lay in my home continent. After the study abroad ended, my adventure continued. I went back to Kenya to visit more family members. Before the study abroad, I had visited family in Nairobi and Nyandarua, after the study abroad, I visited family in Mombasa and Kapsabet. The experience was wonderful. I was there for about a week. Time flew by so fast and soon I boarded the plane heading back to the USA. It was great to come back to my mom, dad and sister although I missed my relatives. I will never forget this wonderful experiences. I thank God for giving me this opportunity. Although I am no longer there, the memories will remain.

A Few Questions I’ve Received…

And their hopefully concern-relieving answers.

I’ve received a few questions about my study abroad experience and I’m going to try to answer them to the best of my ability~ FOR THE GREATER GOOD

 

1.) You weren’t there for a whole semester, right? Was it a special summer program kind of thing?

INDEED. This is a thing that may not apply to your particular experience— my school offers something called an Exploration Seminar, which takes place over 5 weeks in late August-early September. It’s worth 5 credits (we take 3 classes per quarter, at 5 credits each), and the credits apply to Fall quarter (so this fall quarter I’m physically attending only two classes, but still getting 15 credits worth). To my knowledge this isn’t something that many other schools do.

I have had friends on semester systems take full semesters abroad though (… in Ireland, but), and they enjoyed it very much. If you have any questions about the semester study abroad, I can forward them to her, if you like! It’s much more about getting into the swing of that country’s school system though, whereas mine was kind of like ~LET’S GO LIVE IN KOREA FOR FIVE WEEKS YAYYYY and some days we’ll even attend LECTURES OOOOOH~
2.) Does your school have a partnership with Kyunghee that allowed you to go?

Yes and no! We’re not one of Kyunghee’s ~official partners~ as far as I know, but we have connections there. Basically, we attended special lectures by Kyunghee professors. When we were at KAIST in Daejeon, we sat in on graduate-level courses. There were fifteen UW students in my program— it was specially designed to allow us to kind of float around, experiencing facets of Korea. I’M SORRY THIS IS VERY UNHELPFUL.
4.) Does one need to know a certain amount of Korean?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. You can’t really rely on everyone speaking English, though people do tend to speak a little. But all the street signs, subway navigation, etc. are in English. Knowing how to say please, hello, and thank you will take you ALL THE WAY. If you read Korean letters it’s also quite helpful, and only takes about an hour to learn at a rudimentary level if you do flashcards. But there were many people in my group who didn’t at all, and they had a great time.

More importantly than all that, I did not meet a single person who, if you were polite, wasn’t completely willing to help me get where I was going, buy whatever food I needed, etc. People are super nice. And this is something that I’ve encountered over and over again in Europe as well. I think the language/culture barrier was the most frightening thing for me before I went to Korea, but upon arriving there everything went incredibly smoothly. I wouldn’t let having a minimal knowledge of Korean dissuade anyone from going.
5.) And possibly most importantly: You seem to be a well traveled person, living in France etc. and I also get the impression that you’re pretty outgoing? Is it a stupid idea for a shy person to even consider exchange programs?

IT IS TRUE THAT I AM QUITE OUTGOING, HOWEVER! I am also kind of shy sometimes, and I think that if you’re shy, the joy you get out of study abroad will come from how comfortable you are with your shyness.

If spending time alone is something that you’re totally okay with, that is absolutely fine. As long as you’re smart about it, Korea is a very safe country. You can get plenty of enjoyment from wandering around Seoul alone, if that’s what you feel comfortable doing.

That being said, I have found making friends in a study abroad setting much easier than making friends in normal university classes. Foreign students generally find each other and clump together. Even if there are no students from your school on the trip, you will probably know the others from orientation or what have you. Abroad, everyone is kind of tetherless and alone and you basically become automatic friends with whoever is right there because you need to. It won’t be a situation where there’s a clique of people that is impossible to get into (though on all the trips I’ve been on there have tended to be a couple friends among the group)— everyone is sort of looking to be friends with whoever is around them, and if you just stick with the people that are in your group, you will never be lacking for friends.

For a shy person, at least in my experience, the hardest part of that is acknowledging that you have a right to be among that group, and to make sure to say things like “Hey, let me know what you’re doing later” so that people don’t forget to include you. Which can definitely be hard, but if you just keep in mind that EVERYONE IS AS ALONE AS YOU ARE it will hopefully get easier.

(also there will probably be one really assertive outgoing person who is really good at making plans and organizing people and has lots of ideas for what they want to do. Find this person. Stick with them.)

As for making friends with Korean students, IT IS A UNIVERSAL RULE THAT WHATEVER THE LOCALS OF A PLACE ARE LOVE FOREIGN STUDENTS. Everywhere I’ve been (… Europe and Korea…) people have wanted to ask me questions about America and show me stuff and talk to me and even just practice their English. And if you’re a really lonely foreigner, THAT CAN BE REALLY NICE BECAUSE YOU JUST WANT FRIENDS YOU’RE SO LONELY OH GODDDDDD.

TL;DR GO FOR IT

My number one piece of advice for traveling alone (as opposed to with family as a dependent) is whenever you get stressed about something, sit back and realize that apart from your dying in a horrible freak accident, nothing can go wrong. If you miss a flight, you can catch another one. If you get lost, you’re not going to be lost forever. If you order weird food in a restaurant by accident, RUN OUT THE DOOR no really it’ll be okay.

I realize this is a policy tooooooooooooootally founded in ridiculous optimism, but seriously, nothing can go wrong permanently. There is no one thing that you can do that will totally screw up your life. Rather, you’re going to make a bunch of great stories that you can brag about later and probably have an awesome time.

Also never do drugs in foreign countries because you will be arrested AND DIE

Grad School in Korea: Visiting KAIST

After a less-than-academic week due to the typhoon and a trip to Busan for some seaside culture (read: delicious fresh seafood), our group bussed back north through Jirisan National Park and finally arrived in Daejeon, home of the famous KAIST. Full name: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

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…yeah, it’s that kind of school.

Our professor, Matthew Saxton, kept telling us that KAIST students are basically the Korean equivalent of MIT students in the U.S. It is a graduate school of small size and dynamic influence, which often sends sees grads employed at companies like Samsung, Hyundai, and LG. We were there for a series of workshops and lectures in the Culture Technology program, otherwise known as What I Want To Do With My Life.

Our home for the three days we were there was the futuristic Guest House, situated in a giant, suspiciously clean office park/construction zone, right next to an empty exhibition center. The doors opened with magnet keys and required a button to be pressed on the inside if you wanted to actually leave. Once we left the door open too long and triggered an alarm when I tried to close it, which only turned off when I went outside and put the key to the lock. It made all kinds of whirring and beeping noises and I’m certain it was more technologically advanced than anything I own.

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Anyway, lectures.
It was great to be back in class after such a long break! We had five lectures and a workshop, with both our own faculty and KAIST faculty. Some of our KAIST lectures were in fact classes taught to KAIST students- in English. At KAIST, we learned, teachers get a pay boost for teaching in English and the entire business program is actually taught in English. Our lectures included topics like Sociological Ambilvalence and Social Networks and Music Information Retrieval. It actually reminded me quite a bit of the interdisciplinary classes at UWB!
We spent a lot of time talking and learning about networks, both in the sociological and technical sense. Also, I learned how the Internet works, which was definitely a highlight for me, because for someone who spends most of her life online, I sure as heck had no idea what went on there.
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A definite bright spot of the KAIST experience was working with grad students, many of which were conducting research on sites like Twitter and Facebook. One guy actually took the opportunity to interview us about the spread of Kpop in America, which is… Well, a subject that I have a, shall we say, somewhat large personal interest in. I would love to read his paper when he’s done.
The KAIST campus is large, thought he student body is rather small. Still, the cafe was always packed when we went (maybe because coffee there is a good 2,000 won cheaper than most other places…), and we saw more foreign students than we had seen at Kyunghee University in Seoul. Daejeon itself seemed a bit small, especially after being in Seoul for a week. We did venture out and find the college area though, which was packed with people, brightly lit, and full of delicious food. Pretty much the Korean standard. The thing about Korea, at least that I’ve found so far, is that the college areas are twice as busy as the U district in Seattle, and about ten times as safe. Seems like a pretty good deal to me. Our tour guide, who was a Culture Technology grad student, said that most students still go to Seoul on the weekends. I can understand that. No matter how cool your town is, it is certainly hard to compete with Seoul.
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The little bit of Daejeon that we saw was lovely though, and I’m sad that our lectures ended so quickly! It seems like most of this trip has been determined to give me a taste of Korea and make me crazy for more.
Well-played, Saxton. Well-played.