Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my arrival in Tanzania. For the past few weeks I have been incredibly strung out. I keep thinking about how fast the last year has flown by. Just like it was yesterday, I remember sitting in a hotel in Philly with 38 complete strangers, looking for anyone to be my friend, not having any idea what I was getting myself into. Fast-forward one-year: I now know a new language, a new culture, I am living alone for the first time in a foreign land, a foreign land which has become not so foreign, and I have 38 new best friends. Crazy.
Because this year has flown by, this past month my mind has been consumed with thoughts about how this next year is going to fly by too. Then what? In one year I am completely free. I have no pressing attachments, no student loans, no car payments, no house, no kids, no significant others. The world is literally my oyster. I realize how lucky I am to be able to say this, but, even so, it is probably the most frightening thing I have ever uttered. For any who know me, you know I like plans. I like knowing what is coming, being prepared for the future. I am a firm believer that a person needs to plan for the future that they want. For the last two weeks I have been going to the village everyday to charge my computer and research jobs, update my resume, and talk with friends about the companies they were hired at.
The other day I realized that I was feeling very disconnected from Tanzania. I am here, I am doing my job, but my mind has been in other places. I love it here. I feel so lucky to be here, and I only have two years here. It was with this realization that I decided to change my thought process. Instead of thinking “oh no, I only have one year before I have to figure out what to do with my life,” I am now thinking along the lines of “oh no, I only have one more year left in Tanzania!”
As much as I get frustrated with this country, as lonely as I feel sometimes, the fact of the matter is, I know that one day I am going to miss this. This is a once in a lifetime event and even though some days it is hard to see, this experience, this country, my new friends (Tanzanian and American) have changed me. The day will come, sooner than I would like it to, where I will wake up and long to return to my life, as it is right now.
For this, I am determined to seize this year. I now have the tools I need to get things done, to really help and make a difference. I know the language, culture, and the need, and I am excited to see what I can do to improve the lives of my new friends and community. As for what is next, I am going to not worry. I am going to have faith in life. It always works itself out, I will end up someplace, hopefully great, and life will continue, kama kawaida.