Hamjambo marafiki!

Hello friends!

Welcome to my first post. Writing to you now from London, though this is only a short stop on my way to the real destination: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I’m in London visiting my sister for a couple of weeks – she actually studied abroad here when she was in college and loved it so much that she moved back after graduation, about 4 years ago. I just flew in yesterday morning.

First, a bit about me:

My name is Mariah, and I’m just about to begin my junior year at UW as an International Studies major with a focus in development. I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life, and while I’ve done a bit of traveling before, these next 4 1/2 months will be the longest I’ve ever been away from home. I’ve decided to spend the semester in Tanzania because I wanted to gain an African perspective on the issues I’ve been studying and will continue to pursue. I also just wanted to do something different, to get out of my comfort zone and truly experience life in another part of the world. I don’t know anyone else on my program and none of them will be from UW, so this trip will certainly be a test of my independence. I’ve also spent the past school year taking Swahili classes, so I’m hoping to practice that as well.

It’s been a long and, at times, stressful process to get to this point. I had no idea how many details there would be to sort out along the way! Getting my visa, arranging financial aid, applying for an internship there, packing for an entirely different climate, etc. amounted to a very busy few months of preparation. The night before was the most stressful, as I, of course, left far too much to the last minute. Around 2:30am, just a few hours before I needed to leave for the airport, I realized I hadn’t gotten enough malaria pills and had to send my dad to the 24-hour pharmacy. How lucky I am to have such a supportive family! It was hard to say goodbye. It was also my first time flying alone, which felt a bit daunting but seemed fitting. And I made it just fine, at least this far.

Well, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the more interesting stuff.

Tanzania, can’t wait to meet you.