Chapter 2: Back to the home land - academic experience Worldwide e.V.

Chapter 2: Back to the home land

Just months before my thirteen birthday, my family and I traveled to Eritrea for the summer vacation. Up until this point, Eritrea was a place only illustrated by my parents. Finally, I was about to experience it for myself. Waking up before sunrise, my father rallied us all and we drove in our minivan towards the airport. To any kid, traveling on a plane for almost 20 hours is a thrilling feeling. While all my siblings slept throughout the flight, my eyes were glued to the window. At last, we landed in Eritrea.

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980's. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980’s. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

The drive that night still vividly exist in my mind. It was an immense culture shock and all I could do was absorb how differently my life was in the states. For the first weeks, my siblings and I wandered the capital city, Asmara. Filled with Italian architecture, the city was the closet resemblance to modern life. Shops and restaurants were busy, taxis and buses filled the streets, and people walked along the sidewalk going about their day. One of my favorite places to visit was a bowling arcade we used to go with my cousin. Around this time, play station was the coolest thing any child could own. For my brother and I, video games consumed our days, we were addicted. Our proficient skills paid off that summer, and made us quite popular amongst the others.

I think my first culture shock occurred when we drove to the village side where my parents grew up. First we visited my father’s village later following my mother’s. The houses were made out of rocks and concrete, and surrounded by farmland. Animals of all kinds could be seen throughout the village. Fields of green stretched for miles and were encompass by forest on mountain tops. We walked into the living room and were instantly greeted with hugs by family members. I did not even know many of their faces, except for my grandpa who visited us back in the states years before. The village side is nothing compared to Asmara. The land and animals sustains life here, and without it, survival isn’t possible. Heat and light is produced by firewood. No electrical outlets, light switches, or even running water. This was completely new and would require time to adapt.

A causal morning in the states begins in the bathroom. Starting off by brushing my teeth, taking a shower, drying off, and getting dressed for the day. Following this is breakfast, the most important meal of the day as they say. Electrical appliances whether it be the stove, toaster, or microwave is truly the most convenient tools in the kitchen. Before I even continue on, starting my day in the village was extremely different. Washing up in the morning required water to be pumped out of a well nearby. Using a bucket attached to a string, I slowly pulled up bucket after bucket until I had enough water. This was just the first part. The water was later poured into a metal pot and placed over fire wood until it became warm enough for a shower. In the back was a small shack, also known as the shower. The warm water was then poured into a metal container with holes poked through the bottom. What took me just under 15 minutes in the states, now required a couple of hours. Having breakfast was an interesting process as well. Although I don’t recall it taking long, picking fresh eggs from the hen house was a unique experience.

Throughout the day, we explored everything just like any group of kids would. We hiked up mountains, went swimming, and played games completely foreign to us with relatives. It was quite a moment especially seeing how our lives contrasted. Our outlook on life differed greatly from one another. Life for them was about meeting the basic requirements for survival. Life is simple, and all you needed to do was really rely on each other. Yes, the standard of living is less, but how much is enough?

In the west, we value our life by measuring how much we possess. In order to be happy, we buy something new in order to find satisfaction. Perhaps a new phone, car, house, clothes, or even getting a new promotion at work. There was a time when all of these things didn’t exist. Was being successful and happy nonexistence during this time? Of course not. Living in the village that summer made me realize you don’t need fancy materialistic objects or advance technologies to live a happy life. We were surrounded by each other, and found the outdoors to be our form of entertainment.

Looking back at that trip as an adult now, truly makes me feel grateful. I realized no matter how Americanized I become, my true home is a small village a world away.

Just months before my thirteen birthday, my family and I traveled to Eritrea for the summer vacation. Up until this point, Eritrea was a place only illustrated by my parents. Finally, I was about to experience it for myself. Waking up before sunrise, my father rallied us all and we drove in our minivan towards the airport. To any kid, traveling on a plane for almost 20 hours is a thrilling feeling. While all my siblings slept throughout the flight, my eyes were glued to the window. At last, we landed in Eritrea.

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980's. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

My name is Adonay Gebrehiwot (24) and I am currently pursuing a masters degree in neuroscience at Goethe University. I grew up in the U.S. along with my family who immigrated from Eritrea in the 1980’s. From my writings, I hope to share my experience of what its like growing up in a foreign country.

The drive that night still vividly exist in my mind. It was an immense culture shock and all I could do was absorb how differently my life was in the states. For the first weeks, my siblings and I wandered the capital city, Asmara. Filled with Italian architecture, the city was the closet resemblance to modern life. Shops and restaurants were busy, taxis and buses filled the streets, and people walked along the sidewalk going about their day. One of my favorite places to visit was a bowling arcade we used to go with my cousin. Around this time, play station was the coolest thing any child could own. For my brother and I, video games consumed our days, we were addicted. Our proficient skills paid off that summer, and made us quite popular amongst the others.

I think my first culture shock occurred when we drove to the village side where my parents grew up. First we visited my father’s village later following my mother’s. The houses were made out of rocks and concrete, and surrounded by farmland. Animals of all kinds could be seen throughout the village. Fields of green stretched for miles and were encompass by forest on mountain tops. We walked into the living room and were instantly greeted with hugs by family members. I did not even know many of their faces, except for my grandpa who visited us back in the states years before. The village side is nothing compared to Asmara. The land and animals sustains life here, and without it, survival isn’t possible. Heat and light is produced by firewood. No electrical outlets, light switches, or even running water. This was completely new and would require time to adapt.

A causal morning in the states begins in the bathroom. Starting off by brushing my teeth, taking a shower, drying off, and getting dressed for the day. Following this is breakfast, the most important meal of the day as they say. Electrical appliances whether it be the stove, toaster, or microwave is truly the most convenient tools in the kitchen. Before I even continue on, starting my day in the village was extremely different. Washing up in the morning required water to be pumped out of a well nearby. Using a bucket attached to a string, I slowly pulled up bucket after bucket until I had enough water. This was just the first part. The water was later poured into a metal pot and placed over fire wood until it became warm enough for a shower. In the back was a small shack, also known as the shower. The warm water was then poured into a metal container with holes poked through the bottom. What took me just under 15 minutes in the states, now required a couple of hours. Having breakfast was an interesting process as well. Although I don’t recall it taking long, picking fresh eggs from the hen house was a unique experience.

Throughout the day, we explored everything just like any group of kids would. We hiked up mountains, went swimming, and played games completely foreign to us with relatives. It was quite a moment especially seeing how our lives contrasted. Our outlook on life differed greatly from one another. Life for them was about meeting the basic requirements for survival. Life is simple, and all you needed to do was really rely on each other. Yes, the standard of living is less, but how much is enough?

In the west, we value our life by measuring how much we possess. In order to be happy, we buy something new in order to find satisfaction. Perhaps a new phone, car, house, clothes, or even getting a new promotion at work. There was a time when all of these things didn’t exist. Was being successful and happy nonexistence during this time? Of course not. Living in the village that summer made me realize you don’t need fancy materialistic objects or advance technologies to live a happy life. We were surrounded by each other, and found the outdoors to be our form of entertainment.

Looking back at that trip as an adult now, truly makes me feel grateful. I realized no matter how Americanized I become, my true home is a small village a world away.