Now that I've spent the better part of two months abroad with one more to go, I find myself reflecting on things I've now learned that I wish I knew before departing. Not everything is crucial, but I think my attitude would have been different had I known some of these things.
Poop. There's so much dog poop everywhere, all the time (except the financial district). Though there's nothing that can really be done about it, it takes a lot of energy to watch every single step you take so that you don't mess up your fave sneaks.
Cigarettes. Smoking is not prohibited in various spaces the way it is in the U.S. People smoke cigarettes the same way they inhale oxygen, constantly. Although people have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies, I'd prefer that my lungs actually had a chance.
Banks and money. Banks here are only open from 10 am to 3 pm on weekdays and not at all on weekends. This presents an eternal struggle when you have classes during this time and aren't able to make it. Also, inflation. We're experiencing our first inflation as students studying here and it has been a little hectic understanding everything. Through this process though, we have been made acutely aware of our privilege as U.S. citizens. Though we're experiencing this inflation with them, it's because of our native currency rising in value that they're going through this.
Homesickness. It's not too bad, but it is real. I am very close with my family and this is my longest time being so far away from them. I also miss the comfortability being in the States gives me. And definitely, I miss seasoned food.
Racism. I knew I'd experience racism here but I didn't know it would affect me the way it has. I didn't know how othered I'd feel by being stared at in every space I occupy. I didn't know that I'd question myself the way I have, especially given my experience at Spelman, which affirms my Black womanhood all the time.
By: Piersen Briggs