Having stayed at Baker House for about two months now, the pursuit for the “overseas-stay” objectives is promising enough. On top of all other things, observing and learning cultural differences other than what we are used to was the most enthusiastic goal. We have time left and the learning is still happening. It is interesting indeed and yet it looks like there is much more to explore. Below is a “Swahili to English” translated version of the document we sent to our colleagues back home in response to their ambitious quest about life in Abbotsford!
As compared to Dar es Salaam Abbotsford is a beautiful small City and less populated. It is well planned and organized. The people are kind and caring as long as you approach them for help. Mobility around the city is awesome. However, walking and biking is mostly for exercising. To walking in the streets is lonesome. We rarely, find people walking with us on our way to Walmart for groceries. Apart from the fact that most of them drive big cars the generosity to those few who walk like us is amazing. However, I still don’t understand why big cars with huge tires while the roads are so beautiful and smooth centrally to those in Dar! Additionally, motor bikes on road are few, disciplined and in fact they are not meant for business. “Bajaji” and “bodaboda” are nowhere to be seen in this City.
Social and family life is very different here. The families are smaller; houses/homes and neighborhoods are very quick but beautiful. Running a family life looks simple and hustles free. Kids can subsidize family income by starting working at age of 15 and still get paid minimum wage. I haven’t asked yet how much is a minimum wage but anyways, this is real great! Interacting to others is a bit limited. Very few use the public transport apart from the fact that they are extremely good and well planned. You hardly find saloons and barber shops around to do your hair and if you happen to get some are very expensive. Shoe shiners and shoe makers have no space in this city unlike in Dar where you can easily locate them around bus stops, groceries or bar areas. I have not seen them anywhere here. Bars and groceries are also very few. Public drinking and smoking is against the law. You really need a good map to locate where to buy a beer. You can only buy a beer at “liquor store” and still you need to walk back home close yourself into the room and drink it. This is real a wonderful experience to know.
I have also been looking how people great one another when they meet. Since the city is very multicultural we could not pin point one main greeting style. In most cases, greeting is mainly by smiling while nodding your head a little bit. That is real cool.
Additionally, I real like how people care about health and somebodies life here in Abbotsford, especially in public premises. Our residence building is fitted with very sensitive smoke detectors. The residence staff is very serious and concerned about them. From when the students arrived, we have already been evacuated from the building thrice in response to fire alarms, including one of which we had to parade in the rain. But it was all fine! I haven’t heard of vandalism or anything similar to that from when I got here. No worries it seems like everywhere is safe. People just park and leave their cars overnight anywhere they want as long as it is allowed. You cannot do that in Dar es Salaam.
Lastly, let us share a recent experience concerning punctuality and timing issues. Apart from recognizing our differences and changing accordingly to suit the environment, it came to our knowledge that our efforts were still not good enough. Recently, we had to learn our lesson in hard way when we were called to attend a meeting to discuss residence matters at Baker house. The chair person denied us access into the meeting room because we got there 3 minutes late. We could not believe that was really happening! However, we took it positively and accepted the angry truth.
As a quick look into the notebook records, this is what we can share for now!