"My dad worked for the State Department. So I grew up moving abroad, basically my whole life. I was born in the States, but when I was six weeks old, we moved to Cameroon. From there, Armenia, Switzerland, London, and Japan. I feel like when I go into a new place, I reserve expectations and take stock of what's already going on. I think that's something I've learned how to do really subconsciously, but it's helped in a lot of different random situations.
I was one of the very, very few people that managed to go abroad last year. I went to Rwanda in the fall (2020) for four months. It ended up being one of two programs not canceled during the pandemic because their COVID response was really strong. I didn't have any concept of what flying to a foreign country in the middle of the pandemic to then go study abroad would be like, so I think getting on that plane was kind of a fearless decision to make. I was just trying to reserve expectations, trying not to think about it too much and wait until I got there and see what was going on.
The first morning, I woke up in a hotel room to get a COVID test. Rwanda is called 'the land of a thousand hills' because the entire country is on all of these hills. I had never seen anything like it before. The hotel was at the top of a hill, so I remember waking up and looking out and everywhere you could see houses on hills. And there was a little city on top of the hill over there and it just looked like nowhere I had ever seen before. I remember thinking, 'Well, I've actually made it here. This is completely different.' The sun was shining, the weather was perfect. It was a good omen, I felt, when I woke up. I felt like, 'We did it. We made it here. I can actually do this for four months. Things are okay.'"