6 Ways Living in Tanzania Has Changed Me

6 Ways Living in Tanzania Has Chan

6 Ways Living in Tanzania Has Changed Me

Looking back on the person I was three years ago, and the person I am today – you could say that everything has changed. I have grown in many ways and discovered who I am as a person. Tanzania has hardened me in both good ways and in bad. The experience has been an intense learning curve that has changed me for life.

6 Ways Living in Tanzania Has Changed Me

1. It is easy to overlook poverty.

The shock factor that hit me three years ago has slowly melted away. It is not that I have become blind to it, but more that it now feels normal. I am used to sharing the road with cattle and stray dogs, used to waving away the beggars at my car window and used to feeling different or special because of the colour of my skin.

When my friends or family come to visit it allows me to see again what it felt like the first time and it is grounding. But it also leaves me with a pang of guilt, that I have allowed myself to become immune to the world around me. I know deep down it is a coping mechanism for me – I cannot allow myself to feel the distress and pain that comes will seeing poverty first hand on a daily basis.

2. I have become an all-in-one plumber, mechanic and electrician – I can fix anything!

The wear and tear of everyday life is doubled when you are in Africa, and therefore things are often breaking. It is interesting that the western world sees items as broken or working, and nothing in between. I have learnt to think about the way things work, identify the issue and do my best to fix them. I am now experienced in fixing gas stoves, toilets and countless items of clothing and I am looking forward to my next challenge.

3. No power and no water? No worries.

A day in my life would not be complete without power and water cuts – you have to learn to adapt. It is annoying, but turning on a tap and finding no water is not surprising. Luckily, it’s easily handled with a water tank and bucket. The thing I miss most from home is a hot running shower. It is pure luxury to me these days!

Lack of power can also be frustrating but it is incredible how much you can do using your other senses. Unstable power means that I have learned to do many things in the dark including unlocking doors, finding the right clothes and training myself to wake up without an alarm.

4. I have become selfish.

This is one Tanzanian trait that I wish I had not taken on. It’s only in the last couple of weeks that I have realised how much I have changed in this way. For the first time in my life I have made myself a priority over my friends. My newfound need to put myself first stems from trying to ensure I myself have not been taken advantage of. It is very Tanzanian in that way, everybody constantly battling to stay on top – regardless of the way it affects the people around you.

6 Ways Living in Tanzania Has Changed Me

5. Making friends is easy – but so is saying goodbye.

Living in a place like this, there is a constant flow of people coming and leaving. You get so used to new people that it is very easy to make friends – people are usually very accepting and are also interested in meeting new people. However, it’s a double-edged sword.

It can make your friendships somewhat superficial. While you are both here in Tanzania, you may be inseparable best friends, but as soon as one of you leaves the country, you may never speak again. You shared so much, but your time together and in the lives of one another was not meant to last.

6. I am comfortable with myself.

Many people will tell you that while living in a third world country, you will feel highs and lows more deeply than ever before. The highs in life make you feel on top of the world, and the lows can leave you aching long after they are over. Through this experience I have learnt a lot, but I now know myself completely – and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I have made mistakes, and I will continue to do so but I am proud of myself and of the transformation I have undertaken in the last three years – I know that it would not have been possible without my time in Africa.


6 Ways Living in Tanzania Has Changed Me


About Pip Harvey Ross

Pip Harvey RossAfter volunteering in Arusha, Tanzania in 2012 Pip’s life changed forever. Three years later she is living in Arusha working for her NGO called Many Shades Inc, which aims to open a series of Children’s Homes and transform the lives of children living in poverty. She is also an avid travel photographer, law student and smiler.

3 thoughts on “6 Ways Living in Tanzania Has Changed Me

  1. Pip
    December 27, 2017

    Hi Roman,
    Would I do this all again? Certainly, it has made me the person that I am today. However, after Tanzania my life will never be the same, I will never have the opportunity to forget the things I have seen and the life I have lived. It’s a very interesting question – after Arusha, you will never be the same. I say, take the plunge and turn your life upside down.

  2. December 23, 2017

    Great post. I wonder, if you were to do it over again, would you do it? I am asking because I am facing a prospect of living behind a job that I absolutely love and accepting one in Arusha, Tanzania and I am a little overwhelm to have to make this decision. Thanks.

  3. July 21, 2015

    Great post! I had the chance to visit Africa (Zambia) where my husband volunteered for 6 months and I *definitely* experienced some of these! I was surprised that things that I thought were so important (water, power) are things I can survive without.
    Travel can definitely change a person, and it sounds like you’ve taken the challenge of travel and turned it into something that makes you a better person.
    Keep traveling!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *