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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Paula Alexandra Struthoff: Travelling to Cameroon

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    01 Sep

    With the funding I received from the Murray-Edwards Gateway program I was able to travel to Cameroon this summer, exploring the beautiful country and reconnecting with Cameroonian friends while working together on a project.

    My trip started with a rather rough journey and a six-hour flight delay in Istanbul, but fresh mangos for breakfast and a walk through Cameroon’s bustling capital city, Yaoundé, made up for the long hours spent stuck on planes and in airports.

    Looking back at the two weeks I spent travelling around the country and holding workshops for Cameroonian and German students, I have learned a great deal and am so grateful to have had this opportunity. Cameroon is the first African country I got to visit, but it is certainly not the last. The openness of the people and the curious and interesting manner in which I was approached everywhere in Cameroon lead to amazing conversations, and even though some arguments got rather heated, I think we all greatly benefited from this exchange of ideas, traditions, food, and laughter. Especially talking about women’s rights, corruption, and political freedom in both Germany and Cameroon stuck with me and will allow me to draw on for my studies. As a geography student, the urban fabric and social structures within the cities I visited were incredibly interesting and it was super fun to connect what I had learned in my first year at Cambridge to what I saw on my trip.

    I had locals showing me around, and think I got to see many different faces of this diverse, loud country, although this was of course only a first glance and I have only begun to understand. Traveling to places that feel, taste, and even smell foreign not only grants the amazing opportunity to learn about the culture, country, and people but also about yourself. Being completely detached from my usual, daily life allowed so much room for reflection and for writing that I experienced this journey not as stressful, but as a great place and time to explore what the year at Cambridge had changed in me.

    On top of all that, not to forget, is that I had a lot of fun and greatly enjoyed travelling - be it while taking a ‘motor-taxi’, so a small motor bike with at least four passengers piled on it, or whilst bracing the monstrous waves at a beautiful black sand beach in Limbé at the Atlantic Ocean.

    So despite the constant paranoia of mosquitos and Malaria I had a fantastic trip and would like to thank Gateway and all the people working for this amazing program for the support!