After settling into the first week in Tanzania, a whirlwind of new sights and information had been thrown in our direction. Not only was there a different way of life here, but the heat inflicted an almost instant production of perpetual sweat. Nevertheless, there were an array of hurdles to overcome but with determination to soon adjust to.

Meetings were the theme of the first week, alongside preparation for a guest lecture happening within the following couple days. Meaning, there was not a lot of time to settle into CityLab, rather instantly beginning to apply ourselves to wherever we could. Although a tad daunting at first, Manpreet and I were keen to get involved.

Over the course of a few days, there was prepping, meetings, planning, executing, and reflecting on the lecture. A busy yet exciting learning experience to get involved with in CityLab while simultaneously adjusting to the new scenery and our new colleagues. Lucky enough for Manpreet and I, the CityLab team had plans that coming weekend to attend a writing retreat in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Eager to experience a new place, we decided to jump on this opportunity and join our colleagues on their three-day venture.

We set out on Sunday morning with our mini suitcases and writing equipment, indulging on a getaway only one week in! Once the team and I arrived, we ordered a round of mango avocado passion fruit juice, discussed what had to be worked on by whom, and we waited patiently for our rooms to be prepped. Since Manpreet and I had just joined the team, there was not an immense workload purposed for us, rather, a few delegated jobs helping the CityLab team, and for Cherie back in B.C.

My focus consisted primarily on writing a blog post based on the lecture that took place a few days prior, titled The Public Private House: Modern Athens and its Polykatoikia.

Otherwise, I was invited to assist in editing papers, working on a couple websites, brainstorming for social media, and completing a goal planning assignment. By having a few different projects to work on, there was a perfect balance between getting work done and having downtime to do things like visit the beach or go for a swim in the pool. Now, I have never been on a retreat before, but here are some new perspectives that I gained through a weekend away:

Productivity was at an all time high.
Being in a relaxing environment surrounded by lush tropical greenery, calming meditative music, comfy chairs, and a cooling pool allowed for a great work-space. I have never felt so focused and motivated to work even though it appeared as if I was relaxing rather than working. It proved to be a better atmosphere for productivity than being cooped up in a crammed office, library or coffee shop. 

Working outside allows for a more positive and creative working mindset.
I felt more inspired and creative by working outside in the sun and warmth. As I was typing up a blog post, I kept thinking to myself that I felt like a digital nomad, a job I have previously considered pursuing. Getting a glimpse of working online while abroad was now a reality for me. It allowed me to understand myself when it came to producing work that I enjoy while being in a new creative environment; being something that heavily resonated for me and might for you too!

Balancing individual and teamwork allowed for better work production.
I excel at working both in a team or solo, but I found that I was easily able to intertwine both! Working alongside others is great for brainstorming and collaborating perspectives yet can be draining if you spend copious amounts of time together. Luckily, I was able to reap the benefits of collaborative work, while being able to remove myself from my colleagues in order to produce content in my own space too. Balancing both work methods provided me with optimal support from others and peace for myself.

Ultimately, this retreat allowed Manpreet and I to bond with our colleagues more while getting ourselves officially involved with CityLab. While packing up to leave, a funny thought occurred of, “time to go home”, as if our house in Mbezi Beach was officially our home. Twas’ an epiphany of how we officially felt settled into Tanzania and gained a new level of enthusiasm to explore every area of this beautiful country. Furthermore, a better understanding of how home is more so a feeling rather than a place, and now it brightly shines in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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