Heather Cousins

SIT Arusha, Tanzania
Media Studies

Describe your typical day: Every day was different. My program was sectioned into safari, school, homestay, and independent study project. During my Arusha homestay, I would wake up and eat breakfast provided by my host family. I’d walk to school where I’d learn Swahili for six hours a day. We took two tea breaks and a lunch break, so the long class wasn’t overwhelming. I’d normally help my host family cook dinner by the fire after class. It was typically some combination of vegetables, beans, and chapati. 

Favorite food discovered while abroad: Chips mayai, a French fry omelette. Eat one with hot sauce and your day is made.  

What was your favorite place to visit? Tarangire. It’s a national park with the country’s second biggest population of elephants. We woke up to a family of elephants grazing, you could hear them trumpeting. It was my first experience being 
surrounded with wildlife. 

What was one highlight of your semester off-campus? Getting to know the people in Tanzania. It was scary and overwhelming when I first got there because I didn’t know the language or any of the people. But soon I adopted a go with the flow motto, and as I started to get to know people, I realized that many of them were so loving and I felt really safe. 

What was one challenge you faced during your semester off-campus? Knowing that we’re not there to change anything but to grow, learning how to do something with what I learned there, and focusing on why I was actually there. 

Advice: Be open-minded and have no expectations-except to be surprised. Nothing is planned out, so just focus on the new things that you’ll experience every second, and don’t try to compare this program to other study abroad programs.