University of Hertfordshire 2018

Nursing, Tanzania Dar es Salaam

Wilcox, HeatherMy university pointed me towards Work the World after I expressed an interest in undertaking my elective in a developing country.

I spent hours looking through their destinations, and read lots of their student reviews.

I was particularly attracted to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Mental health nursing students who had previously travelled there had written about how fabulous their experiences were.

I also liked the idea of being able to access the beautiful surrounding islands, as well as being experiencing a true African safari! It was the perfect combination, so I went for it.

the Work the World team in the UK were always available to answer any questions I had

The months leading up to my trip were exciting, but nerve-racking. That said, the Work the World team in the UK were always available to answer any questions I had. They really took the lead when it came to planning and organising my trip. You let them know about your clinical interests, and then the in-country team ensure you’re placed in the department you’ll benefit from the most. The process leading up to my trip was so smooth and easy that it didn’t feel totally real until I left for the airport.


Wilcox, Heather

Work the World’s in-country team were there to greet me at the airport after a long journey to Tanzania.

From the moment they picked us up from the airport it was obvious that they were caring, and ready to help. It really settled my nerves.The team took us to the house. They showed us around the house and the rooms we’d be staying in. The catering team cooked us a delicious welcome dinner. This gave us the chance to meet our new housemates.

A local man gave up his seat for me, and it stands out as a wonderful memory to this day.

We visited our placement hospital the following morning. Someone from the Work the World team took us there by ‘dala dala’, a local Tanzanian bus. It was quite an experience. This is when I first started to embrace Dar es Salaam’s culture, and the friendliness of the local people. A local man gave up his seat for me, and it stands out as a wonderful memory to this day.


Wilcox, HeatherI was surprised at the size of my placement hospital when we first arrived.

It was far larger than I had imagined. It was actually more modern than the picture I’d created in my head. The work the World team were great. They showed us the office where we needed to sign in and out.

They then showed us all to our different departments, so we knew where we were going the following morning (although they showed us again the next day anyway). I had in my head to keep an open mind. I knew things were going be very different from the UK.

We spent that afternoon with the team, getting to know the local area. They showed us how to change up money and get Tanzanian sim-cards. We also had our first Swahili lesson that evening, which was great fun. The following morning, the Work the World team took me to the mental health department where I met department staff.

They showed me around different areas including male and female wards, an acute ward, an outpatient clinic, and a methadone clinic. Local staff were friendly, and impressed when I used some of the basic Swahili I had learnt the night before. I learned that I could spend my four week placement rotating around the different areas in the department.

Wilcox, Heather

I spent my first week in the methadone clinic, and then rotated around the wards and the outpatient clinic. As I expected, it was very different to the services we provide at home. The staff were incredibly friendly, and willing to teach when I demonstrated proactivity. Trying to use Swahili (even when I got it wrong) seemed to help too.

There was a distinct lack of space, and the same can be said of resources.

Local staff were working with far less resources than we have. I kept in mind that they were doing their best with what they had. The inpatient wards were incredibly different to ours. There was a distinct lack of space, and the same can be said of resources. This was a shock initially. But I persevered because I found that staff still demonstrated kindness and compassion to their patients.

Wilcox, Heather

There were times I was shocked at some of the treatments. However, speaking with staff I began to understand the reasons behind why certain treatments were used. The hospital experience was amazing. Spending time in such a low resource setting made me truly grateful for what we have in the UK. And in spite of the limitations, local staff offered fantastic care that will influence my own practice as a nurse. I really felt welcomed by the staff, and they made me feel as though I was part of the team from day one. It really reflected the culture and friendliness of Tanzanian people.


The house had communal areas and a swimming pool for some after placement sun tanning.

And I spent the rest of my evenings and weekends exploring Dar es Salaam, and Tanzania more broadly.

Wilcox, Heather

I wanted to find out as much about the culture as possible. We often walked down to the seashore for a walk in the evenings. And there was karaoke one night a week at a bar just down the beach. It was a great way to experience local culture. We visited the local shopping area regularly. It had a crafts market and plenty of good restaurants.

we took a boat to a local island for a day of sunbathing and beach fun.

In the local area near to the house, there were restaurants serving traditional food. But there were also fast food chains and shops within a few minutes’ walk. One weekend we took a boat to a local island for a day of sunbathing and beach fun. On another weekend, a group of five of us visited Zanzibar. It was absolutely amazing and I highly recommend it.

Wilcox, Heather

We went on boat trips, visited historical sites, sunbathed and even managed to fit in some shopping. The Work the World team in Dar will give you some great ideas on the best places to visit. I also booked the Work the World safari. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime-experience.

the sunset over the national park was beautiful.

We saw lions, giraffes, elephants, zebra, and many other animals. The safari was one of my favourite experiences in Tanzania, as it really was out of this world. Even the sunset over the national park was beautiful.

Wilcox, Heather


My experience was absolutely excellent.

I can’t fault Work the World in any way. That goes for the UK team and the in-country team. My advice to you if you’re considering a placement in Dar es Salaam would be, ‘take the plunge.’ Every moment was fantastic. I thought I’d get homesick, but I didn’t at all. And now that I’m home, I am always dreaming of going back!

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