Only in Uganda: Safari and Communication Issues!

First of all, let me start with the Chobe lodge. One of the most important trips in our study abroad program for me, was the visit to the Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. The amazing Chobe lodge is located at the Eastern part of the park, and it feels like paradise to be so close to the river Nile. The river and the river banks are full of hippos and buffalos and visited by monkeys, birds, elephants and other animals.  By looking at the following pictures, you will not want to miss a once in a lifetime experience to stay at the beautiful Chobe safari lodge.

The safari at the Murchison Falls National Park was very unique. The credit for this fantastic experience goes to our driver Mr. Moses and ranger Mr. Henry who both took such great care of us. We saw different animals along the way including giraffes, warthogs, buffalos, giraffes, elephants, birds, deer, a leopard, and a python. Henry’s skill of spotting animals including a recently fed python, was outstanding. Henry pointed out the python from at least 40 feet from our van, while it was hidden in shrubs. It was hard to see the python, even as we walked closer at about 8 feet. We joked and said that finding the python was Henry’s backup plan (maybe he placed it there) in case we didn’t spot any other animals. However, it got there, Henry’s years of experience as a ranger enabled us to see many more animals than we would have on our own.  In the pictures below, you can see some of the animals we saw up close, including the python.

(Photo credit: Mary Catherine Pelham and me)

Okay enough talking about the paradise at the national park and the Chobe lodge, let’s also address some communication problems we faced during our study abroad.  We usually had very good experiences everywhere because Dr. Swahn has traveled through Uganda for many years and is very familiar with the culture and places we visited.  Even so, we noticed the many communication problems, especially when ordering our lunches and dinners at restaurants. I will share few experiences we had. At one restaurant,  I ordered samosas for lunch (they were pretty much offered at alll restaurants). After some 40 minutes, the waitress delivered all other lunch orders and told me that they cannot make samosas now. We wondered about the timing of this communication, could she not have mentioned that earlier? We had a range of other experiences of miscommunication and also very long wait times such as waiting for the food orders for more than one hour and a half, or waitresses telling us only five more minutes, but in reality we would have to wait for another 30 minutes. After experiencing some communication and motivation issues among restaurant workers, I feel like maybe I need to start a communication improvement project instead of public health projects in Uganda.

Among all restaurants, the restaurant chain called Café Java’s just stood out because of their very fast delivery, great customer service and courtesy among all staff at all locations ve visited throughout Kampala. If you ever visit Kampala, Uganda, do experience cafe Java’s delicious food, with fast delivery.

All that said, Uganda is full of amazing places and experiences. My final advice is to remember to be as flexible as you can, while traveling to Uganda or other countries, and you will enjoy it too.

Balancing Diet and Other Things

Back in October 2016, I heard that the applications were open for the study abroad program in Uganda. I always wanted to go to Africa and to learn about their health and culture so here was my chance. There was only one thing holding me back, my concern about being able to follow my vegetarian diet while traveling. When you have a mom who always prepare food for you, it may be challenging to live in a different country for 21 days. No wonder then that my first question to Dr. Swahn, the professor in charge of the study abroad program to Uganda, was about the types of food that would be available. The good news were that she completely assured me that there would be plenty of food offerings, even typical vegetarian Indian food. I even checked it out on a Google search and was so relieved that food would not be an issue.

Finally in Uganda, it is time to tell my mom about the study abroad experience because I know she has been so worried about my eating. Before I left, she wasn’t concerned about what I was going to learn or even why I wanted to go. She simply asked “what are you going to eat for 21 days?” So, during my very first morning and breakfast time in Uganda I was discovering the colorful vegetarian options that I could eat (with elephant picture in the background).

The truth is, when you are born in a typical Indian family, nearly every day there is a repetition of food options as shown in the picture below. And, to some people’s curiosity, vegetarian people do not eat only salads and fruits every day.

`                                                (Image credit to Pinterest)

Everyone should know about a “balanced diet” and how it is necessary for good health. A balanced diet means eating enough three times a day, and selecting food from 5 main food group options ( These five groups include 1. vegetables and beans, 2. fruits, 3. grains and cereals, 4. lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, and 5. dairy products. The first week, I ate well from all five groups. I am not going to give you more details, because the pictures below show some of the awesome vegetarian food I ate. And, the pictures will tell it all.



After exploring all vegetarian food options offered, I will agree with any person who says, “You got to live once, it’s worth trying everything you can think of.”  Now another PR motto for the study abroad program in Uganda could be “Study abroad, not only a valuable learning experience, but also learning a way to eat a balanced diet for the rest of your life.” Finally, I am so glad to show my mom all the great food I ate and I know she will be surprised by seeing the enormous number of photos I took of everything I ate throughout the entire program. Okay enough writing about the “balanced diet,” but there are some other balanced things I saw in Uganda. You can see that in the pictures below and join me in wondering how they “balanced” those things.