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By Leissan Sadykova. February 5, 2015 - 9:58 am
Studying abroad in Uganda was the best decision I have made. But it was not an easy decision. Before actually getting on the plane, I was thinking and rethinking my decision to go to Uganda. I knew that I had always wanted to go to an African country, but thinking about it and following through with the decision are two very different things. While at the airport, I remember looking at flights home. But once I committed to getting on the plane, it has been the best decision I have ever made.
I had the opportunity to live with two different host families, and these families are what really made my experience amazing. Not only was it easier to learn the language, but the transition was also much easier. The first month I thought about going home several times a day. The transition was very difficult, and the lifestyle I was surrounded by was so drastically different from what I was used to. It was also especially difficult having to also deal with past issues from back home. My host families both welcomed me to the area and made me feel at home, especially near the end of the semester, when I was going through a lot of personal issues.
Near the end of the semester, I had an opportunity to intern with the World Health Organization’s regional office in Gulu, Uganda. Through this internship, I spent one week visiting health centers within the Gulu District.
This is also where I found my passion. I discovered that I wanted to help the health centers in the rural areas provide the best care possible to their constituents.
Through the hardships and second-guessing, committing to studying abroad in Uganda and gaining as much as I could from the experience, contributed to a lot of personal growth. You are taken out of your normal environment and are living in an area with people completely different from that which you are used to. You can’t help but grow.
I can honestly say, through this experience Gulu has become my second home. I was very lucky to have the families I did, especially near the end of the semester, who supported me through my personal problems, as well as my academic endeavors. I will be returning to Uganda, and am currently working on starting an organization to help the health centers in rural areas. I am so happy I committed to this experience. Again, it has been the best decision I have ever made.
Photos by Leissan Sadykova.