What Surprised Me About My Gap Year Experience

I think something that surprised me about my gap year experience is how hard it has been to detach from the on goings of America to fully embrace Tanzania. So often have I had my eyes locked on American media, news, and television (just purely out of habit) that at times I can forget that I am in Tanzania. Some things that have extremely stuck with me lately are any major past mistakes I have made and consistent comparisons to the success of other people in my future career field (film). With these consistent thoughts sometimes I get so lost in my head and the stress of anticipation for my future that I forget to live in the now. One of the reasons why I wanted to study abroad for my first year of college in the first places was to be able to develop as a person away from the many distractions and difficulties of America, and I think being physically in Tanzania is one thing but being able to fully immerse myself, mentally, is another. I think this is one of my biggest surprises but also one of biggest challenges on this trip. By making myself take a break from social media and consistently pushing myself to try new things and get out of my comfort zone so I may defeat past demons has helped. Recently I have really enjoyed attending local hip-hop and African dance classes with Arusha Dance Company, doing hit workouts from youtube, and interacting with local kids closer to my age whether they attend my dance classes or just local colleges. These actions have helped to lately make my mind more clear and present, and I hope the longer I am here the closer I get to that goal. I unfortunately do not have any pictures of me from the dance class but below you can see pictures of me with some friends I have made and students my age I have interacted with.

I am in the middle and to my left is my friend Winnie and to the right is her cousin Brenda. This is a picture we took while walking around downtown Tanzania. Winnie attends university in Dar es Salaam but is currently home visiting her family on a break for the next month, and Brenda recently graduated and is now a practicing pharmacist. Their family owns the school that the nonprofit organization I am currently staying with works with, so we met through mutual contacts.
This is a very blurry picture of me checking out local colleges and speaking to the students. In this particular class they were practicing English, so I was answering their questions about different American English dialects.

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