My friends back home almost always think that studying abroad is the best thing that could happen.Whether it being studying in China, Malaysia, The US, Europe or even Kenya is basically living the life ofmilk and honey. I must admit, I sometimes contribute to this general way of thinking.
Frankly speaking,(Or writing?), It’s not always fairy dust and sparkles studying abroad so here are the top 7 things I miss out of when studying outside Tanzania.
1. A Driving License
This may be very specific to me but I don’t have a driver’s license. Left home when I was 16, always thought I’d get my driver’s license during the long form four break but It never happened. Then now, 2 years into college and I still don’t have a driver’s license, whether at home or in the country I am in.
I sometimes pretend that it’s God’s way of telling me that I will be really rich and I will get me some drivers. I do know how BS that is but a girl can dream, right?
2. Tanzanian friends
I went to an all-female boarding school, hence 99% of all my Tanzanian friends are female and I barely spend any physical time with them. Trust me, it sucks! There is also the lack of people to hang out with when you’re on break because the aforementioned friends have grown up and out into these beautiful different mature people that I really don’t know much about anymore.
3.Current Tanzanian events
Friends talk about college loans and the current state in higher education in a WhatsApp group and I sneakily google Ndalichako because I do not know what that is.
Also, there is Shilawadu, OMG! One misses out on so many of these kind of things when studying abroad. It is quite annoying if you are as curious and want to be as involved as I am/do.
All I get is a once in a while Kenyan with their weird Kiswahili accent attempting to speak grammatically correct Kiswahili and calling it ‘Swahili’ instead. It is definitely not fun speaking a different language all the time.
I long for the days when my secondary physics teacher would explain n-p-n transistors in Kiswahili and we would criticize him for his poor English. Or when I wrote full 3 page essays comparing ‘Kilio chetu’ and ‘Ngoswe’ and hating every minute of it.
Then there is the occasional Tanzanian who would not want to speak our lugha mama. People act brand new with speaking Swahili as if it is a cool thing to do and would get you some ‘I-am-so-cool’ points.
5.Weddings! (and other events)
I cannot count how many weddings I have missed because I was not in the country. And trust me, I get A.L.L the pictures. It’s not a big deal but weddings are so fun and I want to see my friends and relatives get married.
On the morbid side, I miss sad events like unexpected funerals that you just can’t attend because the return ticket is at least $1500 (3 million Tshs) and that is not money I just have lying around in my wallet.
So you just pray that someone really close to you stays alive and well, and your family keeps you in the dark about illnesses and deaths because they know there is nothing you could do anyway.
So I am 8 hours away from home. What that mainly means is FaceTime / Skype / Messenger/ WhatsApp calls at 3am every once in a while. You tell people, please look at your phone’s world clocks to see what time it is on my end, 3% of the people do it. So you get accustomed to calls in the wee hours and don’t sleep for that one hour of talking and the following day goes to ruins because of sleep deprivation.
OK so my case is different because I definitely do not cook goo Tanzanian food. Even when I try, there is ALWAYS something wrong with it.
Tanzanian food is so healthy in a I-am-not-going-to-hate-myself-later kinda way and so tasty! Like seriously!!! I recently went home and was so confused about how people value KFC, Mary brown’s and all those ‘trendy’ fast food chain restaurants because how can you have that when you can have ‘zege la mishkaki?’ I really don’t know if I can emphasize enough how I value Tanzanian food.
Basically, the FOMO is real.
Till then, I remain
The writer is based in Boston, Massachusetts USA