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Our time in Tanzania learning Swahili by Jenni (Part 1)

Jenni:Saturday 25th July - Tuesday 28th July 2015

Saturday 25th: On Saturday morning we, the ten students arrived at Edinburgh Airport check-in in for 3:30 am. We were met by Steve, who would accompany us on our journey to Tanzania as well as teach us Swahili during our four week trip. He issued each of us with our two textbooks - risking pushing a few of us over the baggage allowance! After making our way through security and managing to squeeze in a cold beverage we boarded our 6am flight to Amsterdam. With the lay over period in Amsterdam Airport being just long enough to cling onto our last home comfort... McDonald’s, our flight to Dar es Salaam departed around 11am. Throughout the nine hour flight the choice of movies, food and drinks, along with the provision of blankets and pillows made for a very enjoyable flight for the majority. Mairi, however, was not as fortunate. With a seat at the front of the cabin, quite far from the rest of the group, next to a mother and her two children, the extra leg room did not make up for the kicking she got the minute she tried to fall asleep! Despite the very long queues we all successfully made our way through immigration in Dar es Salaam and were relieved to see that all of our bags had arrived safely. Our hotel for the overnight stay was lovely and we were all delighted to get a comfy nights sleep after the long day of travelling.

Sunday 26th: First thing on Sunday morning, we made our way back to Dar es Salaam Airport for a short flight to Mwanza. After retrieving our luggage at the other end, we were greeted by our driver and his adorable son, Kipili, who accompanied us to our base location for the next four weeks - Butiama. We stopped for lunch on the way, resulting in many of us experiencing our first ‘hole in the ground’ toilet, something we are becoming more accustomed to now. When we arrived in the evening on Sunday we were allocated rooms and had a relaxing evening in our new surroundings.

Monday 27th: Our intensive Swahili course started officially on Monday morning, with our first lecture with Steve at 9am. This was followed by a short break before our conversation class and tutorials with our three local teachers; ‘Momma G’. Grace and Saidi. That evening we had our first drumming and dancing class activity with John, who along with his friends and dancing and drumming partners, had made and brought traditional African drums for us to use.

Tuesday 28th: As there are not lectures every day, Tuesday morning consisted of longer tutorials and conversation classes in a similar set up to Monday. This was used as a way of introducing some new vocabulary but also consolidating what we had learnt in Monday’s lecture and going over the homework which was due. A walk was planned for the afternoon but due to timing this was rescheduled for the following week. Hence, we decided to comprise and hold a game of rounders, in which some of the local people and staff got involved. It was a great way of getting some exercise as well as bringing the group together and sharing something we enjoying doing at home with the new people we had met so far in Butiama. In the evening, a games night was held where board and card games from home were played - bringing out the competitiveness in the group!