A Diamond Abroad Leaves Tanzania

My plan for 2014 has changed. When I arrived in January, I was to stay in Tanzania for a whole year. Midway through I made the decision to reduce my contract to six months.

Tanzania Rice Fields

Why?

No big story. Nothing monumental.  I simply decided a year was a little too long, and for me, six months would be a better length of time.

But there are definitely pros and cons to life here in rural Africa.

Among the things I will miss most:

Enjoying time with students

  1. The students at school are the best. They are probably the sweetest, smartest, most respectful kids I have ever come across. They made my job easy and I really can’t wait to see what’s in store for their future. I’ll miss them so much!
  2. I’ve met such interesting, kind people and have found it fascinating to learn about their culture – a culture so dramatically different from my own.
  3. The country is beautiful and I’ve seen some really amazing things.  There were many times I had to do a reality check and wrap my head around where I was.

Local Tanzanian friends

I do not regret my decision to come here;  I’ve had an amazing time.

On the flip side, some aspects have been challenging.  The three biggest:

  1. I have very little independence here. There are few things I can do or places I can go without relying on other people. There are many limitations. For someone like me, that’s a big deal.
  2. I was prepared to move to a very rural town, I just underestimated how isolating it would be. The expat community consists of me and one other volunteer. And as a female, it is harder to make local friends. Women tend to stay home with their family and male-female friendships are uncommon.  I have met some wonderful people, but not many I can spend quality time with.
  3. I appreciate cultural differences and find them fascinating, but there are some aspects that start to becoming wearing after a long period of time. Issues involving female equality probably tops the list.

Living here, I’ve learned I am capable of adapting to any situation, if I have to. But in this case, I don’t have to and it’s time to move on. By exiting now I am leaving with a happy and positive experience; staying longer may have tarnished that.

So what next?

Asian Beaches

I’m headed to Asia! Why Asia? Because I absolutely loved the area when I was there before and it’s very budget friendly for long-term travel.  I have a loose itinerary starting with a week in Hong Kong. I’ve never been and since I really enjoyed Tokyo, I’m hoping for some stiff competition between the two cities. I’ll then spend the rest of July in Thailand -a country I’ve been to and is one of my favorites.  I couldn’t imagine being in Asia and not spending time there. Then it’s off to all new destinations: Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and then whichever city I decide to fly home from. Some options are brewing.

I have a target date of November to return to the U.S., but it’s loose.

What will I do?

You don’t get many opportunities in life for a career break and I’m going to take advantage of it while I can.  I have the time and because I saved a lot last year, I also have the money.  I am so excited!

I’ve planned very little, but here’s what I know for sure:

  • I want to eat. After six months in Tanzania, I am ready for Asian food!
  • I want to write more for this blog.  (I still have more to say about Tanzania.)
  • I want to get back into a fitness routine.
  • I want to learn to scuba dive.
  • I want to relax on beaches.
  • I want to make a plan for 2015.

Other than that, the next few months are open for whatever comes. It’s a nice feeling!

Next time you hear from me I’ll be out of Africa and on to Asia. It may be a culture shock!

 

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5 Responses to A Diamond Abroad Leaves Tanzania

  1. Liz Jones September 26, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    Denise,
    Spent 4 months in Arusha in 2008. Good time, tough time, tremendous learning experience. But my passion is animal welfare and so the dog situation was tough. Found homes for 22 pups while there but came home with 5 dogs and one pup, just could not leave them behind. Sigh. Can nto go back to Africa or many places for that reason.
    Hope you are enjoying Asia.

    Liz

  2. Danny June 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Great post,

    You are living the dream.

    May I suggest Vietnam, fly into Hanoi and take the overnight train to mountains of Sapa, There are small villages in the delta you can visit (look in my Vietnam facebook pics) then you can stay there and ride the bus to other places in Vietnam and ultimately back to Hanoi which has a tremendous amount of culture and foreigners. – Just dont scuba dive there.

    For scuba diving go to Phuket, Thailand. You may even be able to work at a scuba shop :) The bigger shops had 3 – 7 day live aboard dive trips. This time of year Thailand will be HOT. Go to far north Thailand in Chiang Rai its great and cool weather!

    Have fun / be safe,
    Danny

    • Denise Diamond June 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

      Thanks Danny! I went to SE Asia during the same time period last time so I am prepared for it to be hot! That is definitely a negative. On the positive side, accommodations are cheaper! I hesitated on going to Vietnam as people have very strong feelings about their experience there. They love it or hate it. But I think I’m going to give it a shot.

  3. Ivy June 25, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    Denise,

    Wish I had the balls to do what you’re doing. Amazing! I actually just remembered that you had a blog the other day and poked around to find it and had started reading here and there. Love that I can live vicarious through you. Can’t wait to see/hear what you’ll be doing in Asia!

    • Denise Diamond June 25, 2014 at 11:29 am #

      Thanks Ivy! It doesn’t really take huge balls, you just have to dip your toe in the water! Once you see how far you can actually go it’s easy. And maybe a little addicting!

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