Catherine Connell

Kenyon College

When practicing foreign language abroad, some things will inevitably go over your head. Nowhere is that more true than when you accidentally agree to marry a Cameroonian king. I’ll summarize by saying one person’s friendly cup of palm wine is another’s marriage proposal. While I look back on this goofy story fondly, this is just one great adventure among many here in Cameroon. The moral of all my stories here: expect the unexpected, and have fun doing so! Spending a semester in Yaoundé can seem daunting. But once you arrive, you see how accessible the country is. People are always ready strike up conversation and share experiences, from the old woman selling beignets on your corner to taxi drivers. What’s more, people will always surprise you. Just the other day I found myself in a taxi with a driver who is a practicing veterinarian when not working his second job, and one of my friends at university is taking time off from his life as a pastor in his hometown of Kinshasa, Congo, to pursue a philosophy degree. Conversations and relationships like this are easy to have because people are proud to share this amazing country with you. If you have a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, say yes to spontaneous adventures, Cameroon will gladly have you. Just like my accidental betrothal to a Bamiléké king, I’ve had some zany and fantastic adventures here, and I’ve learned to take it all in stride and in laughter. This sort of acceptance of the odd and wonderful things of everyday life is very Cameroonian—I smile when my taxi, rickety and full past capacity, bounces along in the downpour of the rainy season, taking pleasure in the chatter amongst strangers while the taxi driver navigates through the busy streets. It’s this contentment and willingness to go with the flow that I look forward to taking back to the States with me.