Preparing for Travel

In exactly two weeks, I will be on a plane ride with a temporary destination of Amsterdam, Netherlands, on my way to Tanzania. I still can’t wrap my head around the reality of me actually going to Africa, for a whole month to boot! Traveling is always something I loved and wanted to pursue, but ever going to Africa never seemed to be a possibility, so I had always accepted that it was no doubt a beautiful place I would never see in person. I am a huge animal lover, so National Geographic’s’ shows were always a favorite. To think that I will see in person the beautiful landscapes and amazing animals they capture on camera in person is incredible and so exciting, yet again, still doesn’t seem real. Not only did I accept the fact that I would never go to Africa, but I had also accepted the fact that I would never have the amazing opportunity to study abroad. Studying abroad always seemed like an amazing opportunity that would be great, but it never crossed my mind that it might just be possible for me, until one day it did.

After hearing about this study abroad program through a number of sources, I started thinking more and more how incredible it would be to go there. Then one day I realized, each year a group of college students, just like me, do this program, so why not me? I almost felt a nudging, as if I am supposed to go on this trip. It seems like such a long time ago that I first brought the idea up to my parents, who thought I was just talking fantasies again, not knowing it would soon be a reality, and all too soon it has arrived. I seriously cannot believe that there are only two weeks left until departure (actually a couple hours less now). I feel much less prepared than I had anticipated. Through the various readings we have done in preparation for the trip, I feel like I know so much about Tanzania and almost feel a connectedness to it already, though there is still so much I do not know. Nonetheless, there is something exciting about the anticipation of not knowing, that way the experiences are so much more rich and exciting. I try not to get myself too excited or have too high of expectations, only so that my experience is that much more rewarding.

I look forward to the relationships we will create with the students, teachers, and people there, as well as with each other. Sometimes when I think about leaving to return home I have to fight back tears only because I can just picture how emotional that time will be (Warning: I am quite emotional and will be a crier of this journey!). Immersing myself into the Tanzanian culture will be such an incredible and life-changing experience, I’m sure, and I cannot wait to begin learning all that this experience will teach me. Teaching especially will have a huge impact on me as a person and as a professional teacher. There is just so much I am hoping to get out of this incredible experience and I am so anxious to begin to soak it all in. The land, the animals, the people, the culture, and everything else will open my eyes to what’s beyond the life I’ve known forever. Let this journey begin!

About rachelwehner

Hello! My name is Rachel and I just finished my third year of college. I am a senior at Grand Valley State University and I am majoring in Elementary Education and Mathematics. In the fall of 2013 I took a leap of faith and decided to apply to a study abroad program to go and teach at a school in Tanzania, Africa. Next thing you know, I am packing my bags, ready to fly halfway around the world. Follow me along on this blog to hear of my experiences and adventures I encounter along the way of this incredible and once-in-a-lifetime journey!
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