Goodbye West Africa

In Accra, Farewells, The Art of Travel Spring 2015 by Rachel2 Comments

I am sitting at the living room table sipping room temperature black coffee. I leave in two days, 3am Friday morning. I have a week’s amount of work to cram into the next 48 hours… one more final paper, a presentation, two exams, a last half-day interning, and packing.

All I want to do is take my camera and run around Accra for one last time. I do not know when I will be back here, if ever. Not that I didn’t have a great experience studying abroad, but traveling to Africa is a bit harder than going to other destinations.

I won’t sugar coat my experience here. Parts of this semester were really, really difficult. Not having power for 24 hours at a time, or internet, or A/C, or clean running water got old. Always having to cradle my purse to my chest as I walked down the streets was tiresome and inconvenient. I never want to eat another banana again, and I am heading straight to the dermatologist when I get back to New York to check for melanoma. Going to the hospital four times in four months (only food poisoning and allergic reactions) was terrifying, and having cab drivers cheat me on prices every other day turned me into a schizophrenic. Also, living with just eleven other people for four months almost transformed me into Jack Nicholson’s character from The Shining.

But, all of those difficulties were balanced with incredible experiences. I saw the most beautiful beaches, jungles, deserts, men and women. I worked with the most amazing people during my internship, and I never would have thought that coming to Accra would be so life-altering in terms of my future career goals. I came here for two separate reasons that don’t work well together. I came here to be challenged, and I was. I came here to take time to relax and breathe, and I did.

I really needed this time abroad to take a step back from my life back home. I needed to understand what I really wanted and to see what was really important. Accra did that for me, and so much more.

I am very bad with changing environments, which is pretty crazy since I travel so much. Even though I am ready to return to the first world, I am scared to leave behind my peaceful lifestyle here. I know that I have learned a lot of important lessons here that will benefit my daily routine back in New York. But I can’t wait to see my friends and family and regurgitate what I have seen. I will miss you, Accra.

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  1. Rachel, wow. You have had a lot of “travails” in your time in Accra. Yet it seems as though your experience was very contradicting. You refer to your time there as peaceful, though there were many hardships that are just too difficult to sugar coat. I’m curious to see – how come you see your challenging experiences as peaceful, at the end of the day? Do you still feel a sense of internal gratitude going through such adversity? And yes, I agree that it’s nice to take a step back and experience something different, and it’s all a part of your life story. It’s separate, but it’s also completely a part of, and a reason, for your identity going forward. Glad you grew so much from Accra. Have a wonderful summer!

  2. Rachel,
    Your post incredibly resonated with me, although I am sure I cannot imagine the semester you’ve had. I absolutely loved one line in particular, “I came here to be challenged, and I was. I came here to take time to relax and breathe, and I did.” I actually reread it several times, because I realized that was very much what I was looking for — and got — in coming to Abu Dhabi. I think that’s how travel should be. Relaxing in that it takes you away from your routine, challenging in that it takes you away from your comfort zone. I’m so glad you had a challenging, relaxing, life-altering experience in Accra, and I’m sure your stories will be incredible!

    Hope the finals went well!

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