GU in Tanzania: Profoundly Transformative, Proceed With Both Caution and Anticipation Past Review

By (Social Studies, Harvard University) for

Study Abroad Programs in Tanzania

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Absolutely. I believe that I gained insight, depth, and perspective, and ultimately matured a great deal as the result of my time abroad. I plan to return to Africa as a doctor and health care policy specialist in the future.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: University of Dar es Salaam
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was not overwhelming, although the class sessions were very long (4 hours per day for the intensive kiswahili course and 3 hours on Tuesdays/Thursdays for the development studies course). At times, it was slightly unclear what the course expectations were, especially in terms of the amount of material to be covered independently before class or before the final exams, but it all evened out by the end. The styles of teaching in the language class were fairly informal and personal, unlike the American system, but those of the development studies course were more like the American model.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our faculty leader was very accessibly, organized, and laid back. However, he did have a fairly pessimistic outlook on the condition and prospect of the country, and at times I wished that he would refrain from expressing it so freely with students who were new to the country.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host family, and I will absolutely keep in touch with them and return to visit at some point. I had a bit of a difficult time adjusting to my roommate, but eventually did and the experience was very positive.

* Food:

There were a limited number of options with the food, especially for vegetarians. For the most part, we ate beans, rice, vegetables, and fruit. However, I had expected these limitations, and I still very much enjoyed the experience.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I attended a Tanzanian wedding and baptism, both of which were a little challenging due to their length (over four hours), but still very interesting experiences which I felt lucky to have the opportunity to partake in. Each of our weekend trips (Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Arusha, Serengheti, etc) were fantastic and I wouldn't have changed a thing!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt very safe when with the program directors and other students, but less safe when alone. Because I was doing research, I had to take many trips by myself so this was slightly challenging, but for the most part the people were very helpful and I never felt as though my life was in danger. The program was very accommodating in dealing with health issues, and the health care facilities we went to were very nice. Most of the issues people in my program experienced had to do with food bacteria and digestion, although one girl also got malaria.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I couldn't say for sure, but not very much at all. Other than lunch (which was usually only $2 or so), there were few expenditures during the week. Most money was spent during the weekends on trips, and again that was really up to how much you wanted to spend. I would say I spent anywhere between $20 and $100 in a week, depending on where we traveled and what I purchased.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I wouldn't say there were any unanticipated expenses, but I would urge future students to be careful how many souveniers they buy for family members at the beginning! You'll inevitably find great things at the end to, so try and hold out a little.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had not taken a college-level course in the language prior to departure.
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced with my roommate, the other members of the program, and my host family, as well as in class. I did use the host country language in most conversations because although many people spoke some English, it was very limited, and you were better off attempting Kiswahili.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Host Families
  • Learning about Kiswahili and Development
  • Weekend Excursions
* What could be improved?
  • More excursions and fieldtrips within Dar es Salaam
  • More exposure to local organizations-- NGOs, etc
  • More interactions with local people
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I believe that the type of student that would benefit most from this program is not one who will simply ignore the tremendous difficulties and discontentments of life in the country, but one who will experience them in equal measure with its profound pleasures and beauties; not one who will live the experience superficially and return home to praise it simply as an exotic adventure, but rather one who is willing and able to bear witness-- to recognize the remarkable history, culture, and character of the country, as well as its remarkable hardship. I believe the student who would benefit most is one who upon both arriving and departing is able to experience fear and uncertainty, homesickness and loss, appreciation and attachment, and thus to enrich his allegiance both to his home country, and to the country being visited.