Elaine Sohng

SIT Kampala, Uganda
Religious Studies/Philosophy

Describe your typical day: 
Our program had two phases: homestay and independent study project. During homestay, I’d get up and take a motorcycle taxi to class, where they’d have food for us. Then I’d have language class, tea, one lecture, and one site visit. We’d eat dinner really late, around 10 or 11, so before I did homework, hung out with my host sisters, talk to the house manager who would teach me new vocab, and watch Bollywood TV with my host mom. During ISP, I lived with 2-4 other researchers in Gulu. I’d run around town all day to schedule interviews and focus groups, so I’d come home exhausted, to transcribe interviews.

What was one highlight of your semester off-campus?
One of my host sisters was moving to the US, so she had a goodbye lunch for just her sisters. I was preparing to go off and do my own thing when I realized that they included me in that category. That was when I realized how strong our relationship was. Favorite food discovered while abroad: Goat meat in ground nut sauce, which is purple. Ground nuts are really popular in East Africa, they’re similar to peanuts.

What was your favorite part of the city to visit?
An area called Wandegeya, which is near SIT and the university. It’s really crowded and there’s a ton of cheap food, and lots of young people around.

What was one challenge you faced during your semester off-campus?
ISP is stressful. It’s difficult to try to maintain researcher neutrality while relying on community members and becoming friends with interviewees.

When packing, keep in mind that people in Uganda dress very well. Also, people in Uganda will inevitably be late, but they will always show up.