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Episode 9: Emma

I thought to myself: I don’t want to study in my hometown. I wanted to get out. I’ve always been in Dortmund, and I want to come back, but not live there forever.

I like the town, but I don't want to live there. It's my home. I love it. But it's not somewhere where I want to live. I want to experience something new.

First, in high school, I went abroad a year to Australia. I’m not like expatriates who have always been travelling around. I had always been living in the same household. So it was a change, but a nice one. It was an intense experience, very different from what I had always done. But it was fun, and I ended up staying in Australia for ten months. I didn’t go back to Germany during that time, but my mom came to visit me and we travelled around together. So, I’m not really someone who gets homesick. I even wanted to stay there! I would have stayed there if I could, but it wasn’t possible.

When I finished school in Germany, I didn’t know what I should do with my life. I had already worked as a teacher assistant (TA), so I left to work as a teacher assistant in a Ghanaian school – that was perfect for me as I wanted to get out.

So I left for Ghana: I lived in Cape Coast, but I taught in Kakumdo. And to be honest, like, when I left, I didn't know where I was going to live and what exactly I was going to work as. I just knew there was something, so I wasn’t lost.

I had an apartment with another German guy, but in town. Ghana is super safe, so it was completely fine, and I loved the experience. I had no problems communicating, as people speak English, and also the local language, which is Fante. And working at a school, you obviously learn a few words of the local language. Now, I’ve completely forgotten how to speak it.

So I was a TA at this school in Kakumdo. I was working with Ghanaian teachers, and as an assistant, I did the shitty work: lesson notes, and stuff like that. It sounds weird, because I was eighteen and I was teaching in middle school. There was one teacher which was twenty-two, but most of us were eighteen or nineteen years old.

I worked in Ghana for a year, and didn’t come back to Germany in the meantime - I already felt guilty about travelling to different countries, for environmental reasons. And I was super happy there, so I didn't feel the need to go back. Obviously, I missed my friends and my family, but I was happier over there.

But before Ghana, I was in my own mindset. I thought that all that those things that people tell me I have to do - I really have to do them. I used to feel so much pressure to do some things, to not do others.

But when you’re over there, you realize this is just in your culture that it’s like this. You don’t have to do all these things…. But it's difficult to explain it. Anyway, I felt more relaxed. Now, I don't put so much pressure on myself anymore.

After Ghana, I came back, and I had no clue what I was going to do. I had no university or anything. And then I found a job. But I didn't have this pressure of: “you need to start uni now”, or “you need to do this and this because otherwise you lose another year”.

When I arrived at uni, it felt a little weird for me to realise that now for the next three years, my path is set. It still feels a little weird. But I don’t regret it. It just takes some getting used to.

I don’t really think about these decisions. I just… choose something. I might as well flip a coin. Because it’s useless to think, and overthink something, it doesn’t have any benefits. Just take a decision, you’ll work it out. That’s sort of how I do it. Even for the electives; I had no clue, I just chose. And it works.

Sometimes, you do stupid things, but it’s okay, you learn.

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