This is a story I wrote for my college writing class about my time in Africa that I thought I'd share with you all!
One event is all it took for me to feel assured of my independence. Having just moved to Khartoum, Sudan, I was in a completely new environment. The weather was different, the way I dressed was different, and the language spoken around me was different. More than anything I wanted to make this place my home, but at the same time, I felt completely inadequate in my ability to do anything on my own.
Then I was asked to go get bread for dinner. I could feel panic rising in my throat, but I choked it down and smiled. I had not yet been out on the streets alone in this strange world. Memorizing the directions was step one. I was to walk down the main street, turn left at the blinking star and then keep going until I got to the bakery. Hopefully, I could make it to the main street without getting turned around. Sliding a scarf over my head, I grabbed the money and crumpled it tightly in my fist.
After making it to the main street and seeing the blinking star, I sighed out of relief. I walked with my head slightly down, careful not to make eye contact with the men roaming the street. As I turned left, I began to feel apprehensive about what would occur next. Would the men understand what I wanted when I gave them the money? Could I clearly communicate without using words that I wanted the round bread?
I pulled the small rope handle and walked in as a cool blast of air glided out. No one was at the counter. I stood there, unsure of what protocol was in this culture. After a moment of feeling self-conscious, a timid “Salam?” slipped out of my mouth. It seemed like hours later, but a man finally came out. I pushed my worn money toward him. When he said something that sounded like a question, I made a circle with my hands. Apparently I had given him the correct information, because he promptly grabbed a bag of round loaves and handed it to me.
My walk home was pleasant. I felt powerful knowing that, although I could not yet speak the language, I could communicate clearly with the people around me. I was a part of this place, and I fit in with all the others who bought their bread each day. It wasn’t going to be simple living here by myself, but I could do it.