My Lesson From Africa: Happiness Starts With Being Happy With Oneself

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Federico (my boyfriend), Kassim (a friend) and I
Federico (my boyfriend), Kassim (a friend) and I

I moved to…Dar es Salaam ,Tanzania.

Before that I lived in… Sicily, Italy.

The reason for moving here was… My boyfriend and I lost our jobs while living in Italy. Shortly after, my boyfriend was offered a job in Tanzania, and so here we are!

If I were to describe my current city in one word that would be… Crazy! Because it’s a mix of crazy feelings living here.

The first thing a new xpat needs to know when moving here is… Be patient! They live in Pole style. (Pole style means: slowly, slowly) In the beginning this way of life can be difficult to understand.

The language issue… In Tanzania people speak English and Swahili. I am trying to learn Swahili, and it isn’t too difficult. I took some lessons, but they were mostly conversational lessons, just to be able to get by.

Federico and I - Mafia Island
Federico and I – Mafia Island

Since I moved here I stopped…Worrying about things that I realize now are not so important. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I value it now. I always try to remember to smile as well. We are very lucky and need to remind ourselves of that sometimes.

Rose (friend) and I at Bagamoyo beach
Rose (friend) and I at Bagamoyo beach

Since I moved here the new thing I started doing is…. Pictures! I have started taking pictures everywhere I got, for everything! Tanzania has so many beautiful places and amazing landscapes, it’s almost impossible not to take pictures.

My biggest lesson learnt was… Happiness has less to do with material items and more to do with being happy with oneself. Have appreciation for the little things, and love your life to the fullest.

Some weird habits of the local… Eating without silverware, and eating with your hands! It sounds easier than it is!

My biggest cultural shock was… The gap between the rich and poor. The gap is so large, it seems that there is almost no middle class.

My funniest / weirdest / scariest experiences was… The first time I took a bajaja taxi! It was very scary – I literally feared for me life. However, once you get used to it, it actually becomes fun 🙂

Christmas in Zanzibar
Christmas in Zanzibar

What I miss the most from home is… Italian food, definitely! Of course family and friends.

I go home as often as… About every 3 months.

I keep in contact with my friends and family…. Yes, often. I use different kinds of technology to keep in touch, such as Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook, Viber, Facetime, etc. Having all this technology makes communication as easy as 1,2,3! Which makes the life of an expat, much easier.

My favorite dish local food is….Chicken mishkaki (skewers) and fries.

Safari in Selous Game Reserve
Safari in Selous Game Reserve

My favorite places in town are…. Malambwezi beach where you can relax and have a drink while watching the sunset. I also like the island Mbudya and Bongoyo, which are really close to the city of Dar.

I get around the city by… Bajaj or – I use whichever way of transportation is faster, as there is a huge traffic problem in the country.

Street fashion… There aren’t any fashion streets like there are in Europe. People purchase clothing and other items in shopping centers. Although, here most people prefer to have their clothes made by a tailor. It’s cheaper and more convenient.

Lion in Selous Game Riserve
Lion in Selous Game Riserve

My view on people… I like the people here. Everybody is very kind and friendly to me.

Being an expat… Sometimes, particularly in poor Secondary Street, the children look at me weird. Many of them do not see people with white skin very often. And most of the people think that your skin-color correlates to how much money you have, which of course is not true.

In 5 years I see myself living… In Australia (It may sound like a dream, but never I lose the hope!).

Lake Manyara
Lake Manyara
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Valentina F.

Valentina F.

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