I’m busy packing up and getting ready for Uganda this week. As I’ve increasingly turned my attention toward my upcoming trip, I’ve been thinking of all the things I’m anticipating. Because I’ve studied in Uganda a few times before, I have developed a long list of favorites, but I’ve chosen just a few to share with you. I’ll no doubt indulge in more detail about each of these in the coming months, so please stay tuned.

Friendship: The Ugandans I’ve met are among the kindest, friendliest, and most selfless people I have ever encountered. I’ve made friends who define the term “strong work ethic,” whose tireless optimism inspires me, and whose innovation and sense of humor never cease to amaze.

Nature: Uganda has offered some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenes I’ve ever witnessed. Though the national parks are beautiful, one need not visit them to encounter nature on display. The beauty of nature is in the smallest details, sometimes in the most unexpected places, if you take a moment to look.

Science: The experience of conducting field research can be described in many ways. At the best times, it’s thrilling, uplifting, and jaw-droppingly beautiful. At the worst times, it’s frustrating, exhausting, and hope-draining. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling both—sometimes in the same day. No matter what it is, though, it cannot be described as boring.

Food: Oh, the food! Do you want to taste the creamiest avocados and the sweetest pineapples? Would you like to experience what cocoa tastes like straight from the pod? How about the taste of jackfruit, the world’s largest (and my personal favorite) tree fruit? Come visit Uganda!

Immersion: One of my favorite experiences about traveling is the feeling of being completely out of my element and having no idea what is going on. This may seem like a strange assertion, but it’s true. There are few times in adult life when we must completely submit to an utter lack of control and understanding—with the exception of going to the DMV, perhaps. To feel overwhelmed, delighted, and immersed in a completely foreign experience is to experience the joy of traveling. I hope never to lose this.

Previously in this series:

Chimps in Uganda: Two weeks and counting….