Life in Uganda: Month 1

Hey guys! So I’ve decided to resume my monthly recaps! My recaps will cover the highs and lows of living in Uganda, as well as where I’m traveling and what I’m reading.

I’ve now been living in Kampala, Uganda, for a full month! And what a ride it’s been.

Depending on the day, I oscillate between thinking ‘Wow, moving to Uganda was the best decision I’ve ever made’ or ‘Gah I miss my friends and skiing and why didn’t I appreciate it more’.

But overall I’m really happy I decided to move here.

A few things I’ve discovered so far; one, Kampala is a small world; the expat circle is very tight-knit. As in my aunt and uncle have already met everyone I’ve gone on dates with. (Yes, this is slightly awkward.)

And life is extremely relaxing here. My days consist of working, playing squash, and meeting people for G&Ts. Rough life, I know.

Where I’ve Been:

Kampala (most of the time)

Jinja (two days)

Highs:

The thrill of living abroad again. It is so exhilarating to live in a foreign country again – everything is a novelty. And plus, I’ve wanted to see Africa my whole life so getting to live here is a dream come true.

Getting to know Kampala. Kampala is full of great restaurants, bars, and nightlife. But the best part about Kampala is the people. The locals are incredibly kind and generous, and the expats are from all over the world, and work in everything from tech to non-profit to micro-finance. I’ve loved meeting people here.

The music. The music here is AMAZING. It’s a mix of dancehall, reggae, and reggaeton, all with an African flair. I love going out and dancing because the music is just. so. good. See here.

Feeling super creative. Ever since getting to Africa, I’m felt very creative. There’s nothing like a little extra free time to stoke your creativity, am I right? Stay tuned for my ebook launch, my non-fiction book idea, and LOTS of blog posts.

Spending the weekend in Jinja. Jinja, Uganda, is a small town on the Nile known for its adventure sports like white-water rafting and kayaking. It’s about two hours from Kampala (though the drive there is mildly harrowing.)

I spent a weekend there at my cousin’s house and absolutely loved it. I woke up to the sun rising over the Nile, and spent my days drinking wine, playing board games, and devouring this book. (Thanks Julie for the recommendation!)

Learning how to play squash. Do you guys play squash? It’s so much fun and such an intense workout. I’ve played tennis my entire life but have decided squash is my new go-to exercise – competitive, fast-paced, and fun.

Lows:

The eggs. Is it wrong if I say the eggs? The eggs here are insipid and flavorless and it just makes me so sad. The yolks are light beige – so weird.

Boiling to death. Normally I wouldn’t say I’m a sweaty person but dear god I am SO HOT HERE. Everyone else is perfectly fine and I’m sweating like a whore in a church. Humidity, man. But January and February are Uganda’s hottest months so I will (hopefully) have respite from the heat soon.

Struggling with the travel learning curve. I think I used to be good at traveling or something? But it appears I have lost my edge. Since arriving in Africa, I have:

  • Not realized I needed a visa for Uganda while on the way to the AIRPORT
  • Left my entire purse in a taxi after arriving in Uganda (with my wallet, passport, and phone inside)
  • Gotten pickpocketed at a bar while dancing (losing two credit cards and a wad of cash)

What’s going on?! I think two years in Colorado made me soft.

Not (yet) having a close circle of friends. Guys, I’m a little lonely. I have met a good amount of people but I have yet to make close friends. I know, I know – it’s only been a month – but it’s not easy.

What I’m reading:

Without You There is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of the North Korea Elite by Suki Kim (2015).  I have not been able to put this book down. It’s the story of a Korean-American journalist who goes undercover as a teacher at North Korea’s most elite university. Kim describes how North Korea is basically a real-life 1984; dissenters are executed or sent to work in gulags, and the dictators are almost deified. A terrifying (but fascinating) look into one of the world’s most secretive countries.

What’s up next:

On Friday I head to ZANZIBAR! I’m ridiculously excited. On the list – photographing historic Stonetown, taking a Zanzibari cooking class, and diving as much as physically possible. If you have recommendations please share in the comments!

Enough about me! What’s been the highlight of your month?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

20 thoughts on “Life in Uganda: Month 1”

  1. I catch all your excitement in this incredible sounding place! It sounds like no other place you’ve been. The music is so ragae with an African twist. It certainly is danceable! That book sounds scary….
    Papa Lou are enjoying adventure and traveling through our books.
    He is building a huge library about quantum physics! I am reading an
    Interesting book I purchased at Shakespeare and Company called
    “TIME WAS SOFT THERE”. Remember the photo they took of me that you made a copy of and sent it to me? Look forward yo your other
    reportings. Love, Gamma

  2. Thank you for sharing your adventures and mishaps in Uganda. New country, new continent, new culture…it will probably take another couple more months for you to get accustom. With all of your travel experiences at such a young age, you could be a travel consultant. In regards to getting pickpocketed, I encourage you to get a Scottevest outfits for 2017/18.

  3. Oh my gosh, I’m so excited to follow along on this new chapter! You’re making me want to move to Africa too! haha. I went to Zanzibar last year, although they were having a massive cholera outbreak when I was there so everything was closed, womp womp… but it’s beautiful! I’m sure people have told you this but it’s very conservative so make sure to bring long skirts and shoulder coverings. Good luck and have fun with this new adventure! :)

  4. OMG when I did that visa I had to send my passport to the embassy and it took ages. What did you do?

    I can’t believe you lost your purse – and pickpocketed!? How are you getting new debit cards, such a hassle abroad! Have you already gotten a new passport I guess for Zanzibar or did you find your purse later? So many questions lol!

    • So the driver THANKFULLY brought back my purse the next morning – I got super lucky. I have an extra debit card so am now using that (he didn’t take my Schwab, thank god). But basically I was like how have I traveled to so many countries and am making such huge mistakes?! lol

  5. Love that music and your post.
    BTW – Everyone leaves their purse in a cab and gets their pocket picked if out in the world kick’n it.
    Go girl – I’m loving it!

  6. I’m pretty terrible at squash! hahaha…Be careful not to get hit by the ball… :-D
    I always like exploring the music whenever I’m in a new place. That and TV commercials. I feel like that says a lot about a country for some reason!

  7. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed and devoured 97 Orchard :) Without you there is no us sounds fascinating, I’ll need to add it to my reading list!

    Your first month so far sounds like it’s been awesome and I couldn’t agree more about when you’re in a foreign country and even the most “mundane of stuff” is still a novelty.

    I can’t wait to hear about your cooking class on Zanzibar, that sounds awesome!

    My month doesn’t remotely compare to East Africa but I did visit Arizona and absolutely loved it. I’m already aspiring to move there, I’ve had it with the cold and snow!

  8. I love reading your posts about Uganda! It’s so far from anywhere I’ve ever been and so everything is completely fascinating. (Those beige egg yolks sound unappetizing though.) Have a great time in Zanzibar!

  9. Yes! So happy to read your recaps and posts from Uganda! The music is mindblowing (from the link you attached)… I love music that just makes me happy and want to dance.

    I agree with you on eggs… I eat a few a day (not even ashamed to admit) and that would throw me off a bit. So happy to hear you’re thriving and looking forward to more updates and pictures :)

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