Long Way to Lilongwe: My First Week In Africa

Although today marks the 5th day we’ve been in Malawi, it feels as though it’s been a month (in a good way!) The past week or so we’ve been learning health & safety skills, some survival Chichewa and tidbits about the culture. We’ve been staying in the Malawian Institute of Management where we have our own rooms, running water and spotty wifi- what a luxury! Getting to know everyone has honestly been the best part. The other volunteers are friendly, non-judging, personal, invested, and willing to make friends that they may not have gravitated towards in the States. It’s refreshing. We’ve had a good amount of time to get to know each other through volleyball games, tea times, games of Cards Against Humanity and working on projects together.

So although I’ve learned so much about Malawi via the PC (Peace Corps) staff, I thought I’d share just one cultural difference with you. As someone who loves photography, I found it interesting that Malawians think that taking pictures of nature is ludicrous. Instead of capturing the nature that surrounds them everyday, they think it’s more interesting to take pictures of other people. Therefore, they might jump in your photo… I haven’t taken many pictures in the compound but am excited to start snapping pictures when we arrive in Kasungu- whether or not I get some stares.

Yesterday we found out which language we’ll be learning which was so exciting because it gave us a hint about where our final sites will be! There are three languages that our group will be learning which correspond to the Northern, Lakeside, and Central/Southern part of the country. I was assigned Chichewa so I’ll be located in the Central or Southern region- yay! All Malawians learns Chichewa as a base language so I’ll be able to communicate with people all over the country. I’ll also get some good practice during homestay because the majority of families in Kasungu speak Chichewa.

All of us are ecstatic to finally meet our amayis (mothers) and abambos (fathers) tomorrow. The people of the village (saying village people sounds weird) are apparently super excited to meet us and have been prepping their houses for a long time. Word “spreads like bushfire” here so the villages around the one we are going to have been getting excited as well. I find it pretty comical that the whole area has been gossiping about the arrival of a army of azungus (white people). Tomorrow we head to town to do some shopping and then arrive in Kasungu in the afternoon. I literally can’t wait.

I wish I could write more but my cellphone time is limited. In short, I’m so happy that I’m here and know that Peace Corps was a great decision for me. Tiwonana! (See ya later!)

Some pics of a meal, the compound, the dining hall and the auditorium.






3 thoughts on “Long Way to Lilongwe: My First Week In Africa

  1. Laurie Bramhall

    We are glad you are safe and sound in Malawi. Exciting news and can’t wait to see photos of landscape or people. Whats the Malasian word for photo-bomb???!!!
    We are slowly getting spring. Its supposed to be 50 today. The snow is melting. Yipeee.
    luvya, LGB


  2. cbaum27

    So wonderful to hear your news. I am sure your transition to your homestay has been both an exciting and challenging time. How is your command of the Chichewa language coming along? Can you and your family understand each other?!


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