I studied abroad for a semester in Cameroon, Africa during the Spring of 2010.
I went to Cameroon, Africa to study abroad, learn about development, and develop my French speaking and writing skills. Cameroon is both a Francophone and an Anglophone country since it was colonized by both the British and the French. However, not everyone in the country speaks both languages although Cameroon is officially a bilingual country. Most Cameroonians speak French and only in particular places like Bamenda do the majority of individuals speak English. This is why I chose to study abroad in Cameroon, because it is a Francophone country with an English speaking minority that I could lean on if I ever needed to.
My experience abroad was very unique, interesting, fun, challenging, emotional, enlightening, depressing, and most of all life-changing. I can now speak French, and although I am not fluent I can carry on a long conversation without a problem. While abroad I was able to take classes in both English and French and meet with leaders like the director of the World Bank in Cameroon, and the head of the Peace Corps. Although some of these meetings left me with feelings of anger and hopelessness, I was extremely privileged to meet with leaders like Frundi and Garga who despite Biya and institutions like the World Bank, have fought for democracy and for the rights of the Cameroonian people.
The most memorable moments of my experience however, were those moments that I spent alongside my host brother Modi. He revived my hope in love because he is the most generous and kind human being I have ever met, and yes he is a man. Before meeting him I thought all men were the spawns of the devil, that all would cheat ruthlessly and without remorse, and that no matter how far I searched or how good a wife I was, I would never find someone who could genuinely love me and be faithful to me. Although I still donít believe that I will surely end up with a good man, at least now I know that they exist, and that there is a chance, even if only a very small one, that I could find someone that disserves me. Meeting him changed my life. I miss him everyday, and when I start to think of him and the wonderful times we spent together my eyes immediately begin to water. He is like no one Iíve ever met, and itís no wonder that I had to go half way across the world to find him.
My experience abroad exceeded my expectations. I felt so alive while I was abroad, and I didnít depend on substances like alcohol to have fun. Human connections were by far the most important parts of life, and I was extremely grateful for all of the things I usually take for granted in the U.S. like water and light. While I have gone back to my usual ways in the U.S. and while I didnít experience any sort of shock upon my return, I am more cognizant of what it takes to make me happy, and a big house with nice cars is most definitely not it.
As I wrote this yesterday I began to panic because I realized how I had immediately been sucked back into this life style and it was depressing. Itís as though although I know that my every day routines, the parties, the career, and the search for money will not ultimately make me happy, I canít get out of the cycle or rid of the force that drives me in that direction in this country. All I really want is someone to love, a nice family, a good relationship with God, and enough money to give my family the things they need. But this lifestyle and this society doesnít necessarily lead us there, it actually hinders us from arriving to that place because we are so dependent on stuff to make us look good and give us status that we forget about the more important things like family and helping people, and in the end no matter how much stuff we have we are still unhappy.