Close your eyes and envision an open plain. Fill it with migrating elephants, zebras, and wildebeests. Imagine the snows of Kilimanjaro in the distance and hear the lively beat of drums in the background. This vision could easily become a reality by studying abroad in colorful and captivating Tanzania. Watch the world’s most fascinating animals trek across the savanna in the “Great Migration” and visit Africa’s tallest peak and largest lake, all in one country.
Geography & Demographics
Tanzania is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. It is one the most naturally diverse countries in the world, and has everything from snow-capped peaks to brown savannas to sandy beaches along the Indian Ocean. It also basks in the rays of a comfortable tropical climate year-round, so studying abroad in Tanzania means beautiful weather all the time. The western and southern areas are left mostly untouched by western culture, but the northern areas and the island of Zanzibar see more tourism. Tanzania is not densely populated and about 90 percent of the population lives in rural areas.
Food & Culture
Tanzanians share a strong sense of national pride. Although more than 100 ethnic minorities and languages are present, the country’s sense of unity is strong. The mindset has saved it from much of the political and social struggles suffered by its neighbors.
The official languages are Swahili and English and Christianity and Muslim are the most practiced religions. Although English is prevalently spoken, it is definitely helpful to learn a little Swahili. Tanzania is the best country in eastern Africa to do it!
No matter where you are, or what language you speak, the culture is colorful and the food delicious. Hospitality is fully embraced. It is actually considered dishonorable for a guest to leave without a full stomach. A large dish of spiced rice, meat and potatoes called pilau is served at pretty much any gathering. Most meals include ugali, or a traditional side dish of thickly mashed corn or sorghum. Outside the home, street food is a savory option and offers up fried plantains, sweet potatoes, grilled corn on the cob or dried fish and fruits.
Things to Do
Amazing sights and sounds are the name of the game when it comes to studying abroad in Tanzania. The Northeastern section has a growing tourism industry and is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. The extinct volcano is best known for its snow-capped peaks. The “Great Migration,” the largest in the world, crosses the region throughout the many protected areas such as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. More than 40 percent of the country is protected in some way.
The Southwest also offers wildlife safaris. Ruaha National Park was named one of National Geographic Traveler’s “Best Winter Trips for 2013” and has the largest population of elephants in eastern Africa. The biggest and the best are aplenty across the country, with the Lake Victoria as the largest and Lake Tanganyika as the deepest in Africa. Tanzania’s gorgeous tropical beaches draw tourists year-round; Zanzibar, “the Spice Island,” is yet to find its equal anywhere in the world in tropical island getaways.
Local transportation consists of taxis and matatus, which are African minibuses. They travel at hair-raising speeds but are inexpensive and accessible. Larger buses travel longer distances.
Studying in Tanzania
While it is possible to study nearly any subject, the most popular for international students to study in Tanzania are natural sciences, conservation, and African studies. This is also a good place to study public health and the environment of a developing nation.
Dar es Salaam is the country’s urban hotspot for study abroad. Tanzania’s largest city has many institutions including the University of Dar es Salaam. This is the oldest and largest public university in Tanzania, and has an outstanding reputation. It hosts hundreds of internationals students every year. Fairfield University offers a year or semester program in Tanzania in African Studies. Dormitory style is the typical option, and students can choose their own courses but they must include at least one that focuses on Tanzanian or East African subject matter.
If you are interested in studying abroad in a wilderness setting, you have found your ideal country, because many study programs in Tanzania are actually set in or surrounded by the national parks. GoAbroad provides information about SIT’s Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology option. Based out of the city Arusha, in the heart of Northeastern natural areas, the program is offered in both fall and spring semesters and focuses on the relationship between nature and humans. Students study topics such as the effects of tourism, local farming and methods for native population preservation.