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What a wonderful year. Not perfect in the way that everything went my way all the time, but perfect because I feel really happy and better than I did before the school year started. Four weeks ago my mother came to visit marking the end of my experience in Cameroon. She came to meet my friends and then help me pack up and leave before going on a Safari adventure together in South Africa, Zambia, and Botswana. I will hopefully talk more about our epic adventure together in a later post, but now I really want to give a healthy “good-bye” to my home away from home.

Cameroon is the easiest and hardest place I’ve ever lived. I was taken care of by everyone, given shelter for free, introduced to instant friends who are also new to the scene or been around a while and looking to be-friend someone new in the tiny expat community. I was also challenged by the restriction of time.. there was plenty of it and everyone moved slower. I learned patience and understanding that culturally I was different and the only person who was going to change was me.

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Cameroonians are kind and passionate, I feel like I was able to depend on people when I needed them. I always tell people the turning point in becoming comfortable was my experience of having my appendix removed (you can refer to that blog post ‘A CAMEROONIAN APPENDECTOMY: PLAY BY PLAY’ for more info.) At that moment I knew I was cared about and there were people looking out for me.

Lucky me, that I got to understand that feeling with people outside of my family. I love that.

It was hard leaving quick. I left the last day of school. Most people were very busy and we said goodbyes fast without a lot of emotion. But its nice to think of it more as a ‘see you later’ than a ‘final curtain’ type goodbye. I love that I will get to see some of my friends over summers, And thank you internet! Facebook.

I am excited for my future. I feel like this chapter of life will add a little extra fuel to every experience hereafter. I observe people on the streets, birds and plants, I see what is beautiful and interesting about ordinary things. I am thankful for what I have, who I have, and what I am going to experience as life goes on.

I am more open minded, I don’t care as much about what people think of me, I am appreciative of my life.

I really hope everyone takes chances. Someone told me once that, “anything worth doing is a little scary”. Cheesy as it sounds I think about that almost everyday, growing pains are not just a figure of speech. I don’t want my life path to be the safest or easiest, I want it to be the most exciting and full filling. Life is short, do what makes you happy. But, challenge yourself, and TRY new things. DIFFERENT things.

The 2 years in a nutshell (things I’m most proud of): Moved to Cameroon alone, got my appendix removed in a West African hospital (*pats self on back*), danced with Masaai warriors, swam in the ocean at night, road a horse on black sand beaches, taught kids to make murals in Yaounde, spent a week driving around Provence alone with my terrible ability to speak french, road a motorcycle (which I was always scared of) around a mountain and LOVED it, learned how to pee in the wilderness (without care), swam with great whites, drove on the opposite side of the road, drove in CAMEROON everyday, went to Italy for a job interview even though it was a long shot, witnessed Cameroon win a football game, went on Safaris, got through my 1st two years of teaching, and met inspiring people.

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I have so many more memories than this, but will keep them to myself. I have stories upon stories that I laugh about a lot and am sure will bore my grandchildren with one day. 2 years, but it was just a kick start. I just got a job in NYC at a fabulous school with high expectations of inner city kids. I am beyond thrilled and excited. The new adventure begins, I’ll start collecting new memories…

Lucky me.

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