by Nicole Lauer (College of Nursing '18)
You don’t wake up at 4:00 AM to push your body to its breaking point with just anyone. You do it with your teammates. With your best friends. With your family. And, I miss my family. I went from spending eighteen hours a day with one teammate or another to being half a world away from all of them. As I sit here carbo-loading on jollof rice and fufu for a race that I won’t actually race this semester, I am reminded of my team everywhere I look, here in Ghana. I go to the beach and find boats that look nothing like racing shells sitting near the un-rowable ocean. I see small men sitting in the driver’s seat of taxis yelling at me and asking me where the heck I think I’m going, so naturally I think of my beloved coxswains. Five minutes of walking in this hazy, humid heat and I’m as drenched and dehydrated as if I had just finished a 2k.
But despite the sweat, I’m not stroking a boat full of four of my best friends. I’m not rolling my eyes at the orders and screeches of my best friend in a head set. I’m not falling asleep next to my best friends in early morning van ride. I’m not trudging to the gym to meet my best friends after long days of classes and work. I’m not eating breakfast, going on coffee runs, or simply studying with my best friends anymore. I am studying away for four months in Accra, Ghana. But, don’t get me wrong, I am having an absolutely incredible experience and I am loving every second of it! Living 5,117 miles away from New York City means exploring a world of new opportunities. Since moving to Accra, I walked a canopy walkway 120 feet above the ground in Kakum National Park, I spent my spring break stalking giraffes and rhinos on a safari in South Africa, and I swam in the other side of the Atlantic. Living in Ghana is so incredibly different from anything I have ever experienced and it's an experience I won't forget anytime soon.
But, amidst the whirlwind of markets and mangoes, I can’t help but wish I could jump in a boat and pull a few power tens to alleviate some of the stress and homesickness that the overwhelming culture shock can cause. The importance of this team has always been apparent but with distance and perspective, I am truly grateful for the people and the experiences. I don’t want to get any sappier than this so, I’ll end on this Ghanaian proverb, “Life is forwards and backwards.” As you all know, the rowing motion is forwards and backwards. Basically, rowing is life. Yεbεhyia bio, see you soon.