Photo taken through a car windshield of cars driving through flooded streets.. Driving from the airport, arriving in Dar es Salaam during the peak of Niño’s storms.

Dispatch from the United Nations Development Programme in Tanzania: Ethan Ellsmere’s second blog from the field

Photo credit: Ethan Ellsmere

By Ethan Ellsmere, MIPP

Moving across the world can be a challenging process. For me, it began with a 34-hour journey across 12,000km to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania through Dubai and Addis Ababa. I landed in Julius Nyerere International Airport during the peak of El Niño’s storms; the flooding across the country was a unique welcome! Taking an international contract with a UN agency is equally about acclimating to your resident country as it is the job. My previous post touched upon the work I continue to do at FUNGUO, so I thought it best to discuss the lifestyle of living abroad in East Africa.

Living in Tanzania is about as divergent to Canadian lifestyle as it can get, from the humid climate to the cultural norms of Africa’s largest city. As someone with prior experience living abroad, I loved the shake-up! There is nothing more exciting than trying new foods, meeting amazing new people and experiencing everything a new country has to offer. My first piece of advice when moving abroad is to create a routine as fast as possible be it where to eat, how to commute, your running route or even where to get your morning coffee. Due to health complications and a delayed start, my turnover between setting foot in Tanzania and beginning work was less than three days. After frantic house-hunting I signed my first lease, slept overnight at the Revenue Authority (TRA) office to get my Taxable Insurance Number, found some favorite restaurants, and went to the beach! By planting roots quickly, I was able to organise myself and dive right into my project work within a week of arriving while not feeling overwhelmed by the logistics of moving.

After some months settling in Dar es Salaam, I’ve found time to take trips across the mainland and Zanzibar. My second piece of advice is: don’t take your time in-country for granted. I’ve talked with several expats working on UN contracts that barely leave their residence or office; living in a country like Tanzania is a singular experience, make use of it! During the Independence Day weekend, I took a few friends to Mikumi national park for a Safari where we were able to experience the Serengeti for the first time. Along the freeway to Morogoro then Mikumi, a major highway for Great Lakes trade, I was able to speak with Rwandan truck drivers and Namibian workers all heading to Dar es Salaam. Hearing their stories was incredible, and something I would be hard-pressed to find if I stayed in my neighbourhood in downtown. During the holidays, I took a short flight to see the Silverback Gorillas in Ruhengeri, Rwanda as well – one that would have been nearly impossible (and much more expensive!) if I was anywhere else in the world. Zanzibar is just a two-hour ferry ride away; I’m excited to organise more trips while living in Dar es Salaam with so many places to explore close by.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BSIA, its students, faculty, staff, or Board of Directors.

Scroll to Top