ellamugColumnist reflects on recent trip to Africa

by Ella Koscher

I bless the rains down in Africa, Gonna take some time to do the things we never had. I listened to these lyrics religiously on our flight from Istanbul, Turkey to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Maybe it’s a tad lame to listen to the song “Africa” while you are physically on your way to Africa, but why not? Travelling to Africa is certainly not lame, so hopefully the two acts cancelled out. It is a fact, however, that the song—“Africa” by Toto—is potentially one of the best songs of all time and Africa is the best continent I have visited thus far.

I had the spectacular opportunity to travel to Ethiopia this past January. I made this journey because our neighbor—a professor at OSU—was teaching at Addis Ababa University on a fulbright for six months. My mom and I promised ourselves that we would visit her and her family while they were living there, and we did.

I took five days off school to embark on this adventure with my mom, but if the choice were up to me, I would have taken an entire semester off. I have traveled an abundance of places, but Africa beat them all as soon as my feet touched the ground.

In my journey, I made two friends from Turkey, met college students from Brazil, made a friend from Iran, hiked a mountain with our driver Fikadu, explored a forest, toured churches, visited a monastery, befriended a cat named Shorty and looked poverty in the face. I did all of this and so much more in a total of nine days: one day in Istanbul, five days in Africa, and three travel days. I often wonder what else I would have discovered if I had stayed in Africa just one more day, or two, three, four….

I am an extremely restless person and traveling to Africa did not quench my thirst for exploration, but only made me crave more. I know, however, that in my five days in Africa I learned more than I would sitting in a classroom or laying on the beach in Florida. This is why I urge people to travel to new places instead of going to the same old place every year. A life of monotony is fatal. There is so much more to this world than a beach resort in the Caribbean or yet another staycation in Columbus. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty or step outside of your comfort zone. Get a new perspective of the world. Get 20 new perspectives of the world. Learn how others live. Get yourself out there.

I’ll admit that a few days lying on the beach is something everyone needs every once in a while, but, for me, I can only relax a few days before I have to get up and explore more of the world than the sand in between my toes. So while you get a nice tan on the beach this spring break, think of all the other places that are just waiting to be explored. And maybe next year you will ditch the sand for something much more extraordinary.