My two months in Ethiopia were unforgettable. Partly for good reasons, and partly for not-so-good-reasons, but unforgettable nonetheless. There’s no place else in the world like Addis, and sometimes its idiosyncrasies were overwhelming and took some getting used to, but sometimes they were cool, educational and comforting. I learned a lot about life in a city that’s undergoing intense development, and I was exposed to the benefits of this rapid development, but I was also exposed to those who it seemed to be leaving behind. This experience was extremely eye-opening in this regard.
Thankfully, besides waking up with the runs maybe once or twice, I didn’t experience any real illness unlike my roommates. We all stuck together and tried to support one another, I’m sure there’s nothing worse than feeling sick and alone in a foreign place, so we tried to make sure to help one another out as best we could. For future Ethiopia, IFPers, I would definitely tell you to take your diarrhea medicine before coming, and while you’re in the city. Rapid, continuous bowel movements are inevitable so be sure to take the proper precautions to ensure that shit goes smoothly (pun intended).
As for my internships, really and truly, the best way to describe my experience was unexpected. I was the only person in our group to split my time between two internships (which I would not recommend doing as I felt like I couldn’t give my full time and energy to both) and I loved working at Mission for Community Development (MCDP) along with Ally. I met people there that I truly hope to maintain long and lasting professional relationships with, and I made a few good friends, like Briehanu who showed Ally and I around during the weekends and always seemed genuinely interested in our well-being. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for my other internship, which felt very brief and distant. The work culture there was a different, people mostly kept to themselves and worked with a lot of autonomy, which I think is generally a great thing, but it was a little unbecoming since I came from a completely different environment hoping to learn more about the organization, their needs, and the people. But even this was a learning experience, so it’s all good.
I hope next year’s bunch can learn from our experiences and have an enriching experience like I believe most of us did despite some of the challenges that we faced. To get you future Addis dwellers started, here is a list of very random tips and recommendations that you might find useful:
- Bole is the place to be. Best internet and best restaurants.
- Pack lightly, you’ll end up repeating outfits like crazy and have to carrying back clothes that you never got around to wearing and this space could have helped you carry all the souvenirs you’re probably going to buy
- rain boots
- snacks from home that you really like, for your pleasure, and to share
- study, study, study that Amharic!
- take the mini buses as much as you can, don’t be like me and take private taxis everywhere, when you could be saving astronomical amounts of money by taking the minibus ( about 150 birr per taxi ride, as opposed to 2.50 birr per mini bus ride)
- HAVE A BLAST, seriously there’s so much to do in Ethiopia, take it all in. Work hard, play hard is a fair policy to use while in Addis.
All in all, I’m glad that I spent my summer in Ethiopia, any other way just wouldn’t have been as special. Egzabier Yemesgen.