In a few hours I will be leaving home for the Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana. As I have twice before, I will be hopping on a plane and flying off to some place far away from my family and childhood friends for school. Previously, the destination was the US, this time, it's Milan, Italy.
As I type this, there are so many feelings and thoughts running through my head that it's difficult to pin them down and describe them. I know I'm nervous, and terrified in a good way, and a part of me is excited to be living in a city I have only ever day dreamed about. But, I am also sad to be leaving home- this time, both my home in Accra, and my home at school in the US, and the people who have made it a space where I can be comfortable.
The very first time I left home to live in a different place, I gave no thought to things like cultural differences, being open to new people and experiences, and just the 'living' part of going abroad generally. In my mind, I was going to school and that was that. And when I did think about questions like how I would interact with all the new people I was going to meet, I would be too scared to confront them and would push them to the back of my mind.
In my time as an international student, I have quickly learned that the most challenging things about college are often outside of the reach of your grades- questions are raised about your beliefs, about your prejudices, about your personality in ways that you often cannot be prepared for, but can be open to. Thankfully, I have stopped running away from that truth, and have been teaching myself to embrace it. I'm learning to welcome different points of view, and different landscapes- and enjoy them thoroughly for the growth that they afford me. I am not the same person I was before I went to the US, and I'm excited to meet the person I will be after a semester in Italy. It is definitely scary, and I will be making a conscious effort not to run and hide.
It's going to be an exciting next few months, and I can't wait for it to start.
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Nana Akua Mensah
<p>Nana Akua Amoafoa Mensah is an Old African Studies, Italian and possibly Art major at Yale University. Born and raised in Ghana, she moved to the US for school, and has since awakened a love for travel and experiencing new places. She is a music and art enthusiast, and a style blogger seeking to draw inspiration for her art and writing from the places she sees and the people she interacts with.</p>