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Reliving Exchange At Home

A Plate Of Food Displayed On A Black Stone

By Sam D., YES Abroad 2018-2019, Ghana. This story was originally published in the YES Abroad Alumni Association (YAAA) newsletter. 

Of the many things I learned while in Ghana, appreciating the small things was at the top of this list. Never did I think I would get to relive so many aspects of my exchange year back home in the United States. After graduating from high school I moved across the country, from Washington D.C. to San Francisco. I found a room for rent in an old house on Facebook. Other than living with another exchange student from Italy while in Ghana, this was my first experience living with housemates. There were four of us in total, each of us from different countries. One from Colombia, Indonesia, Mongolia, and myself. While the four of us got along quite well, the cultural differences were obvious in our small house. Things like what we were cooking and what time we ate meals were pretty noticeable. However, this was never an issue as all of us were keen on learning more about each other's cultures.

An experience that stands out in my mind was when one of my roommates invited us all to participate in a traditional Mongolian tea ceremony. We all gathered around our tiny kitchen table as he prepared different teas in a very unique and special way. He was doing his best to explain as he went along while we were inundating him with all kinds of questions. Not only was it an experience in its own right, but what really made it special was all of us coming together and sharing it together. After that we would eat together on the weekends, sometimes preparing different dishes from our childhoods. Since moving out, my biggest takeaway from my experience living in that house was that you don't always need to get on a plane to explore new places. In many cases, new places, ideas, and perspectives are all around us; we just have to find them.