So this is my story, up close, personal and under the magnifying glass. I left home just before I turned 20 to attend college in America. It was a very emotional event for me and my family, a young and naive lil’ girl going to a far away land alone. My parents were very hesitant about this decision but supported me anyways and I will forever be grateful to them.
Living in America was a huge culture shock in the beginning but I adapted pretty quickly and learned the language and cultural nuances very fast. In no time at all I made friends, bought heavy winter jackets and blended in pretty nicely except for my thick East African accent :). Fast forward to 8 years later, 2 degrees (Biochemistry-BS, Biomedical Engineering-MS), 2 jobs and tons of friends and it was time for me to go back home.
One thing I learned about being away from home for too long is that you have a static image of how home is, exactly how you left it. But boy was I wrong. People change, things change for better/or worse, life doesn’t stay still, it goes on. When I landed back home, I had the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land, not at all like I was coming home. It was not how I remembered it, everything was different. Sure we all spoke the same the language but the mannerisms, the new slang expressions were things I wasn’t aware of. It took me two days to completely adjust and not feel like a stranger in my own homeland. Well that and maybe my brother taking me to the hustling and bustling Kariakoo market, running around under the burning sun helped me to adjust fast.
One thing that hasn’t changed though is the warm hospitality and friendlness of Tanzanians. Everywhere we went, be it a gas station, a coffee shop, a parking lot, everyone greets you in a warm friendly way like they are you are a long lost cousin. It felt soo good to be honest. It’s a big contrast to the American way where no one has time to socialize and make small or big talk for that matter unless of course there is an ulterior motive. I remember living in an apartment in NYC for 3 yrs and never knowing my next door neighbour, just passing each other in the elevetor like cars on the street.
My time at home was very brief. I spent a few days in Dar Es Salaam (my home town) and Zanzibar with close family. My apologies to all my childhood and high school friends I never got to see! It was a brief visit and after being away for too long, I needed to spend time with my big a** family. If I missed you this time, we shall see each other very soon I hope!