Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Week in Dar es Salaam

I've officially been in Dar es Salaam for a week and how do I feel??? Positive. Hopeful. Excited. I've been putting off writing on this blog because I don't want it to become a diary. Haha. I wanted time to absorb things I've done and seen before I write about them. Maybe it changes them somewhat but I've had a blog where I wrote every little thing, every little thought and I don't want a repeat of that.

It seems a bit strange that just a little more than a week ago I was home in the Philippines. When I was in Vietnam for a lay over, friends kept asking me how I felt about moving to Tanzania --- to Africa. Honestly couldn't think of what to say. And after a week, I still don't know. Story of my life. 

For those who don't know the story of how I ended up here, read this part, otherwise skip it.
I was looking at jobs all over the world, anything I could do. It was easiest to look for teaching jobs because that's what I've been doing for the past 5 years and there was a job that I really wanted in Malaysia. Unfortunately, the government turned me down because I wasn't educated in an English-speaking country. With that, I ended up on the British Council website and put in my application for a couple of posts. I was still in Vietnam when I had my phone interview and got a job offer the day I was going back to the Philippines. Out of all the posts I applied for, though, I wanted the post in Sri Lanka the most and I figured I was going to hold out for that at first. When I saw the job offer though, I started thinking, how often will I get a chance like this? Should I wait when I'm older and maybe unable to climb Kilimajaro? I suppose there are other ways and there'll be other times, but I think the same wind that took me to Vietnam whispered to me that day plus Steve's words "F**k Sri Lanka, man, go to Africa." And so it was decided. When I arrived in the Philippines though, it still didn't feel quite real so I didn't get started with the documents, vaccines and other things until mid December. By then, of course, Christmas season was well on its way so things were pretty hectic and before I knew it, it was 2013 and it was time for me to leave for Tanzania.

My week here has been good. Strange in some ways, but there's something familiar in every turn. Arriving at the Julius Nyerere International Airport, warm, humid air was my welcome hug. There were smiles and laughter at the airport and I heard a musical language that I can now recognize as Swahili. Honeymoon phase is still here and I hope it stays. I promised myself that this time, the only thing I'm expecting is adventure and because of that, there'll be adventure in every turn, whatever form it may take.

Dar es Salaam city center
BC (British Council) is taking care of my first two weeks. I'm staying at a hotel which is a 20-minute walk to work. I find that people are pretty helpful here, if they can't tell you exactly where to go, they either point you to someone else who can or walk with you where you want to go. Me, being the loser I am when it comes to directions, have been lost several times just going to or back from work. Anyway, Hotel Sapphire, my temporary home is pretty nice. No complaints about the staff and food is so good. Still, I'm pretty excited to move to my own place. Finding housing here is not the easiest thing, but people at work are quite supportive and thanks to Team Tanzania on Facebook, I found people who were in the same boat and this morning I found a place which will be home for a while. 

There's been a delay with my work permit, so I haven't officially started working. I met some of my Elementary level students and I'm excited to start teaching. Turns out BC Tanzania is using a course book that I'm familiar with and admin stuff is no sweat because I'm used to doing them with ACET. Level testing is the part where I can apply what I've learned with Cambridge ESOL exams. Students here, for the most part, are the opposite of Vietnamese learners. They're strong listeners and speakers but weak in writing and reading (grammar, too).

Healthwise --- haven't been sick yet (knock on wood) and I've tried local food and survived. My sister can rest easy. I've tried a bit of street food but apart from samosa-like things, I haven't seen a lot.

That's it for now. Next time I'll post places I've been to. :D

Love from Dar. xxx