Four months. Four amazing, incredible, and life-changing months full of beautiful, eye-opening, and fun-filled memories. How did the time go by so fast? First I would like to say that studying abroad, especially in a country like Cameroon, isn’t for everyone. It is like starting a new job with its own set of rules, status quos, and regulations, all in a foreign language. Just like a new job, each day brings a new set of challenges.
However, the most important lesson I have learned from being here is that no dream is too big or impossible as long as hard work, consistency, and determination fuels it. Also I’ve learned now more than ever that nothing worth having comes easy, or happens overnight. Getting to where I am now has not been easy, it has taken a lot of hard work, consistency, and determination. But it has all been worthwhile, and I can say that through all the highs and lows I truly have lived my best life.
Some of the highlights of my trip include the following:
Learning how to speak French proficiently and increasing my abilities to speak conversationally.
Spending time in village life and learning how to live outside of my comfort zone.
Being able to do an internship with the anglophone organization ANICHRA and begin the foundational work for my future academic and professional goals (hint: it’s in education).
Fully immersing myself in the community of Yaoundé and Cameroon at large, and making memories and friendships for a lifetime.
However there have been some moments where I have struggled that I believe are also worth mentioning. There are side effects to living your best life.
Some of the challenges of my trip include the following:
Language barriers and cultural misunderstandings. I believe that this has been the hardest challenge for me because it has required a lot of patience with myself and the others around me to overcome.
Encounters with people with ignorant and limited worldview perspectives. I also had encounters with stereotyping individuals throughout my time in Cameroon and France. This required me to practice self-control more than ever before, and it has shown me how important it is to educate others instead of taking offense.
PPP-which stands for a parasite, two presentations, and a paper. I had to deal with all three respectively happening at once in the span of one week. On top of that I had a technological malfunction on my computer. However, I managed to successfully fix each issue in a timely manner, and it taught me that there is no obstacle that I can’t overcome with the right attitude and support system.
Harassment. It is something that I consistently dealt with throughout my solo travel experiences as a young woman. It is a problem that occurs too often for female travelers, and I do not want to ignore and normalize it, because it should not be the norm.
Additionally, my favorite thing about this trip to Cameroon has been the familiarity of it all: the environment, the people, and the culture here. Each day being in this place has continuously reminded me of my roots, and it has reminded me of home. It is because of this I am forever grateful for this experience.
Last but not least, there is one person that I would like to thank publicly for making this trip happen, and that is my mother. She insisted that I come to Cameroon and study abroad this semester, even when my father and grandfather were against it because of the current instability in the Northwest and Southwest regions. It is because of her foresight and resilience that you all have been able to experience this journey with me, and I hope that she teaches us all to live with more faith than fear.
I appreciate you all for your support and all the words of encouragement which helped me through the challenging times. Thank you for partaking in this journey with me, and for consistently reading my blog posts every couple weeks. I hope that you all have been able to learn from my experiences just as much as I have, and I look forward to sharing my next adventure with you. Remember to always to choose to live your best life, because life is too short to live otherwise! Until the next adventure.