Expect the Unexpected

I expected many things about my semester abroad. For each concern, I anticipated my needs and prepared for them. Despite even the most efficient packing, there are some things that are impossible to predict.

I wrote a quirky second entry about my first two weeks in Ghana. It was full of laughable faux-paus and wisdom about vulnerability. Actually, said entry might be posted at a later date so I won’t give it all away.

What is now more pressing and relevant is….malaria. The mosquitoes have welcomed me quite enthusiastically. With my bug spray and bed net, I thought I was safe. I was wrong.

Within our program, we American students have an inside joke about malaria. During orientation, a Ghanaian referred to a student’s malaria with a shrug, offhandedly saying it was “small small.” Most Americans have never heard of malaria being dismissed as anything near “small.” When we see Malaria on television, it is usually devastatingly grim. During our orientation, we learned about prevention, various medical risks, and the cure. This is when we learned that malaria was not uncommon in the region (somewhat similar to the flu back home).

So after an afternoon at the university hospital full of blood work and injections, I have been diagnosed with malaria. I could bore you with symptoms and other facts that could easily be gleaned from the internet, but the general malaise has stolen most of my inspiration. Instead, I will close the post with reflections from what would be a nightmare to many American students studying abroad in Africa. Malaria is tough, that is for sure; the body aches and fever were not welcome additions to my week. Still, Malaria has given me more faith in myself. What could have been a daunting experience turned out to be completely tolerable. Plus, having malaria in Africa is a pretty cool battle story with no unattractive scars and plenty of space for embellishment.

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