An interview by Diana Stoyanova
Moving to a new school can often be stressful but exhilarating at the same time, especially if it happens in the middle of the year. Ola K. (11) recently experienced this as, halfway through the year, she moved all the way to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Q: What is the most surprising thing about living in Dar Es Salaam?
A: When I was moving to Dar es Salaam, I was expecting to live under huge safety control. I heard all these stories about people being attacked and especially night car attacks – when a gang of people would just make you stop and rob as much as possible from you. However, it’s pretty safe. Of course I live out on the peninsula.
Everyone here is really nice and welcoming. The funniest part is that even total strangers will say “Hi, how are you?” even in calls at work. Once I got a call from my phone company, and the first thing they asked was “Hi, how are you doing?”. I was confused.
Another funny part about living in Dar is that many people think they speak perfect English but they don’t. Sometimes we have no clue what they are talking about, but we just smile and nod and that’s how deals are made here.
Another surprising thing here is that when you ask someone to complete something, you would normally expect them to get right on it. Well, not here. Here they say “yes, yes, in two minutes” but they never end up doing it… or maybe after 2 months. I also find it fascinating how, on the highway, yes there are highways here, you can find a motorcycle with a couch on it, and some other things, or a motorcycle for maximum 2 people, but with a man and three women on the back. Anything is possible in Tanzania.
Q: What are some of the major differences between your new school and ASW?
A: ASW is a huge building while here it’s a campus with multiple 2 story buildings. Instead of the commons as a hang out area, we all go out on the benches outside under the trees. Here there aren’t even lockers where we can leave our stuff, so I have to carry all of my books with me throughout the whole day.
Oh, and seeing a lizard in class is normal now.
Q: In what ways are the two schools similar?
A: Both of the schools have amazing facilities and the teachers are all great and willing to help.
Q: How easy was it to adapt to living Dar Es Salaam? What made it easier/harder?
A: I think I’m still adapting. The hardest part for me is that I can’t get out of the house on my own since it’s not that safe. I’m much more dependent here on my parents than I was in Warsaw. However, it’s not that hard since there is a supermarket with the same food I would find in Warsaw (but of course I miss Polish food). Overall, there is everything here that we need.
Q: What do you miss most about Warsaw/ASW?
A: I miss all my friends for sure. I also miss understanding the people around me, although I’m slowly learning Swahili with some help from my friends. Also, I miss being able to be independent, and go out whenever and wherever I want. I also miss wearing a hoodie and sweater.
Q: What is the best thing about Dar Es Salaam/your new school?
A: Dar es Salaam is a beautiful city with many touristic opportunities nearby such as lagoons, and safaris which make it an interesting place as well. It feels like I’m on a vacation all year long. I constantly feel this beach vibe which helps me calm down with all the IB work. Furthermore, the IST (International School of Tanganyika) community is welcoming and kind. They all helped me out in the first few weeks by getting me to class, helping me catch up with previous work and explaining life in Dar.