I studied abroad with The School of International Training’s Program for Development and Social Change in Yaounde Cameroon in Fall 2018. It provided me with scholarship funds and 15 credit hours. Cameroon is located in Central Africa, bordered by Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, and Guinea. French and English are the official languages of Cameroon. I was originally supposed to do the Carleton College program, but it was canceled due to the ongoing anglophone crisis in Cameroon. 

I went to Cameroon because my father is Cameroonian and I wanted to have the experience of seeing my country of origin for myself, and also because of the opportunities that it provided for me professionally and academically. I was able to be fully immersed in a bilingual culture, which helped my language skills. Also, I was able to learn about the culture, the development, and the social changes within Cameroon and I successfully completed an internship with the nonprofit organization ANICHRA, which stands for African Network Against Illiteracy, Conflict, and Human Rights Abuse. 

While studying abroad, I did an interview with my grandfather who was a diplomat for Cameroon and the chief of police, and I was able to share it as a post on my travel blog which I created to document my experiences abroad. I am grateful for those memories since he recently passed away. Had I not made this trip, I would’ve totally deprived myself of this memory.

I also worked with a local school and raised funds for their elementary school students who were refugees and those who had been displaced due to the anglophone crisis, and we were able to provide them with almost $500 in school supplies. It's one of the things that I celebrate most about studying abroad. 

Studying abroad also brings challenges, and it’s important to know what type of program works best for you. I dealt with my fair share of language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and encountered individuals who made stereotypical assumptions with limited worldview perspectives. These challenges taught me to practice self-control more than ever before, and it showed me how important it is to educate others instead of taking offense. You can learn more about my study abroad experience by watching my YouTube video. Overall this experience taught me gratitude, purpose, and resilience. I will never be the same because of it, in the best of ways. I believe that everyone should study abroad if they can, and it is possible! If you need a starting point in how you can also study abroad I think reading this article will help as well.

Lydia Makondo is a Senior Strategic Communications Major Liberal Studies Minor attending Hampton University. She loves storytelling and sharing the stories of others through various platforms. She has a brand called The HBCU Experience where she shares the culture, history, and legacy of HBCUs on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. As a graduate she plans to continue her studies in business and communications and will begin working in those fields while pursuing her PhD in education. Check out these and her other initiatives on Linkedin and Instagram.