Oli otya! If you follow my social media, you may know that I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad again this past summer. On this adventure, I made my journey to Africa! Africa? Yes Africa, which is what some may call the MOTHERLAND. I went on a journey to discover how the Ugandan government and those living in Uganda are working to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. During my time there, I worked as a reporting intern for the Daily Monitor, the largest private owned newspaper in Uganda.
That internship in itself was something that I will never forget. I got to be amongst my people AND participate in the internship of a lifetime. I really couldn’t ask for a better experience. But it gets better, my best friend was also there in Uganda and we only lived an hour away from one another. The perks on this trip were literally unlimited. I have to partially thank her for my interest in going abroad but that’s a different story for a different day.
I had been admiring this experience from a far since my freshman year of college but I was just really hesitant. I don’t really travel outside the U.S. without my mom, so these study abroad excursions, always push me out of my comfort zone. So, the Brazil trip was two weeks. Cool. I survived. But my trip to Uganda was a total of FOUR WEEKS. 30 DAYS. A WHOLE MONTH outside of my comfort zone. This trip definitely tested me in more ways than one.
I lived in guesthouse with all of my classmates. There was eight of us total, not including my two professors. But, I had to share a room with two other people that I barely knew. I’m an only child, so the whole idea of sharing a room with more than just one person was new for me. Especially since I never had to share a room until my freshman year of college. But I managed to adjust. The most interesting thing about our house was that the showers didn’t have a partition to separate the shower from the rest of the bathroom. So there would be water everywhere when I showered. We lived in a middle class household, so I was fortunate enough to have hot water, electricity, and an adequate internet connection (at least when nobody was really using it).
My internship at the Daily Monitor allowed me to explore some places of Kampala on my own. I was able to meet some government officials (and push their buttons) and meet some of the nicest people I’ll probably ever come across just by walking down the streets. I was also able to visit the Gaddafi Mosque during the season of Ramadan. Driving in Uganda is complete chaos, so thank God for Uber! Traveling to a place that should be a ten minute commute, turns into at least 30 minutes, due to the insane traffic jams. These traffic jams occur literally all day, everyday. For instance, here in America when we see emergency vehicles en route, we typically move out the way. But in Uganda, the emergency vehicles have to wait until traffic starts moving in order to get to where they are going. The traffic alone is a sight to see.
To balance the stress of working in such a fast paced environment and experiencing slight culture shock, our professor made it a priority to take us on several excursions so that we could see all that the country had to offer. During some of these trips, I wouldn’t have any access to electricity, hot water, or internet. Except that time that I noticed that the women at the Ruboni Community Camp were bringing hot water to the showers and I sprinted like my life depended on it. However, going without those things, forced me to take in all of my surroundings and just be present in the moment that I was in.
There were some days where culture shock and homesickness hit me like a ton of bricks, but I always made sure to give myself five minutes to cry and then get back to work. I was able to kill two birds with one stone by being able to travel and advance in my desired career path. So if I could provide one major takeaway from this specific journey, it would be JUST DO IT! Don’t let the fear of not feeling like you’re ready stop you from seizing the opportunity of a lifetime. I experienced a lot and learned a lot about myself during this trip. But there is no way that I can put it all into words without this becoming a dissertation. Until next time….