When I began this journey, I expected that I would change and grow as an individual, but I did not know the extent that study abroad would actually affect me. Of course, if you dramatically alter your typical routine and move to a new country, you’re bound to notice a change in how you used to act and think about things. Still, I had no concept of just how much I would find myself changed.
I have around eleven days left in Ghana. These past few weeks have brought long days with ample time to think about myself, and the time I chose to spend an important part of my life in. It truly is kind of insane to think about taking four months to go somewhere you’ve never been to spend time with people you’ve never met and immerse yourself in a culture you know nothing about. Yet, I did it, and it all went by at an unbelievably fast pace.
Admittedly, I have recently been in a kind of rut. I lost my phone in a car, mosquitoes have officially taken over my legs, and I feel as if I’m handling the weather worse than I had before. May has seemed to blend together in one long day where it seems there is no ending or beginning. Finals are stretched out over three weeks, and most of us have seen/experienced the majority of what we had planned to do already. I yearn for my favorite foods, my friends back home, and my university. Naturally, the empty space has allowed me a bit of time to reflect on my study abroad adventure. At the beginning of the semester, I took a self-assessment test to evaluate how mentally prepared I was for studying abroad. Recently, I took it again to reflect and value how much I have grown since my arrival.
Instantly, a question that caught my eye when retaking the test was a query about my willingness to confront problems and look for alternative solutions. I would say this is something that I struggled with prior to coming to Ghana, but being here has forced me to deal with challenges head-on. Often when trying to get somewhere on time, there is a delay in the public transportation system, or a simple trip to get food takes way longer than you imagined it would. Instead of getting angry and giving up on whatever I had wanted to accomplish, I was forced to find an alternate way to get where I needed to go, or to get what I wanted.
One other major difference that I noticed in myself was under the resilience category of the test. It asked what your ability was to keep a sense of humor when placed in a stressful situation. Stressful situations are inescapable, and they have happened to me more than a few times during my experience in Ghana. For example, language barriers have constantly been an issue that I have considered to be stressful, especially when it is problematic trying to buy food. Most of the time, it just takes a little patience and kindness to turn around this setback. This is a valuable skill to have no matter the location, and it makes a person deal with an issue that is bound to happen at some point in their life.
I hope you find yourself in a place you’re not familiar with to do things you’ve never done before. I promise it’s worthwhile.