Students embrace Tanzania study abroad program

Students embrace Tanzania study abroad program

Bridget Butterworth ’13 hails from New Hampshire and studies in Connecticut, so she says she’s used to the New England lifestyle of multitasking and minding one’s own business.

Then she spent a semester abroad at the University of Dar es Salaam through Fairfield’s newest study abroad program at the Tanzanian capital.

“We come from such a fast-paced environment, … but in Tanzania, people take things at a slower pace and focus on relationships,” said the politics and international studies major. “The culture was essentially the polar opposite of ours. What struck me most was the Tanzanians’ sense of connectedness. Tanzanians see themselves as part of a larger community so everyone talks to you almost everywhere you go.”

Tanzania may not be a traditional study abroad destination for Americans, but for Butterworth and Gabriel Sacco ’13, who also spent a semester in Dar es Salaam, it was the experience of a lifetime. Their time abroad was filled with life-changing experiences that provided them with unique classroom and community living and learning opportunities.

Sacco, an international studies major with minors in biology and politics, learned about the program through a brochure at the Study Abroad office. “I have always been interested in learning more about Africa, but never pursued it,” the Bridgewater, N.J., native said. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn about the continent while living in the culture.

“Being a biology minor, I was really excited to explore and take note of all the different insects, animals, and foliage.” Sacco studied sociology, African foreign policy, and the history of East Africa. “The classroom was in the open-air, so a bunch of times we would have birds, wasps, or butterflies join us. Of course the professors were used to this, but our class couldn’t help but drop everything and stare.”

He planned to use what he learned in his Tanzanian classes for his International Studies capstone.

Butterworth, who is also pursuing an education minor, said it’s been difficult to describe her time in Tanzania once she returned to the U.S. “We joke that there is really no way to describe the differences except by going and experiencing them,” she said.

She plans to apply for a Fulbright scholarship focusing on development work.