Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Geography Lesson

Last night Gina and I spent about two hours in our kitchen talking. Actually, I did most of the talking. I told her all about the different countries that I've lived in. I had never told my new roomies exactly where all I'd gone to school before so she was curious. She was a very attentive listener and kept asking me lots of questions.

For those of you that don't know, here are all the countries that I lived in and a little info on them:

Pakistan, Karachi- This south Asian city was my parents' first overseas teaching job. I believe they lived here with my sister for 5 years before I was born and then we stayed one more year after I was born. Is that right Tonya? My parents loved Pakistan and talked about how great the school was long after we left. Oh, I started walking for the first time at the airport as we were leaving Pakistan! I hope to go back one day and see the hospital where I was born and the school that my parents worked at. This probably won't happen for awhile since I'm told that Pakistan is certainly not the safest place for Americans right now. Isn't it neat that when I turned 18, I could have gotten a Pakistanian passport? I still think about getting one someday just for fun....

The Gambia, Banjul- I do not remember much of anything about this west African city. I believe we lived here for 4 years. It is the smallest country in Africa and it's less than 30 miles wide!! That is tiny! Sadly, about a third of the population live below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. All I really remember is that we lived in an amazing house and I always thought of it as a tree house because there were these huge palm trees all around it. For some reason, I also have this image of the living room in my head and the ceiling is super high. Is that even right Tonya?

Venezuela, Maracaibo- Finally, I got to go to school in this south American country but only Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten. The four of us lived in a tiny pink apartment for two years. I don't think any of us were very happy here. Theft was horrible and my parents salary wasn't good. I kind of remember that my sister seemed to think that she was in a love with a boy here! Haha! I also recall that my Kindergarten teacher was an absolute joke-she was like 80 years old us chasing little kids around! Ridiculous! I made my first friend here, Jenny, and she had bright red hair which I loved! I wish I could find her on facebook! : )

Somalia, Mogadishu- This country lies in the Horn of Africa. Unfortunately, we only lived here for half a year because on our Christmas vacation in the states, we learned that the civil war broke out and our homes and the school had been bombed. We lost everything. It was really hard to handle that. I loved living here while it lasted though. We lived just a few yards away from the school so we could go home for lunch and my best friend here, Anita, lived right across the street from me. I had two pet goats too which was awesome! It was a mother and her baby and they would hang out on the soccer field when I was in classes and then I would play with them during recess and after school. I wonder what happened to them.

Mozambique, Maputo- We lived in this south-eastern African country for four years. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with overpopulation, unemployment, poverty and crime being it's major problems. Malaria was also a big issue here because of all the mosquitoes and sitting bodies of water everywhere. We had to take a malaria pill every night and sleep under mosquito nets. Having said all that, I loved living here. It was a very, very small school and I think there were usually only 12 or so in my classes and I was the only girl a lot of the time. I really enjoyed being so close to all the students and teachers. I also loved my pets there, Nicky, a cat and Brownie and a dog. It was very hard to leave Maputo but my parents felt it was time for a break from the overseas life, so we moved back to Tucson, Arizona for a year.

Myanmar, Yangon- This south-east Asian country was by far my favorite place that I lived in. I lived here for 6 years so it's the longest that I lived anywhere and I made the most friends and of course the most memories too. I am grateful to have attended the same high school for all four years. The Burmese people are such peaceful people because of their religion, Buddhism. It is a beautiful city too with many tall golden pagodas everywhere. I will definitely be returning to Yangon one day for a visit.

Honestly, I really do enjoy talking about the countries and about my experiences in them. Yet, sometimes I worry that I sound like I'm a spoiled brat having gotten the chance to travel so much and that's the last impression that I want to be giving off to anyone. In fact, I detest braggers so that's not what I am doing at all. I simply want to share my story. I think by telling it, I help explain why I am the way I am. I also hope to encourage others to travel overseas and see this huge planet. Generally I don't think that Americans travel enough. I get it though, flights are expensive and it's difficult to find the time to take off . I have been fortunate enough to continue traveling since I stopped living abroad and have gotten to go to Paris, Tunisia, Australia and Jamaica. Hmmm..Where to next? Any suggestions?

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."
– Miriam Beard


  1. Aw, I loved reading this Leah! And I know exactly how you feel, that people might think we're bragging when we talk about all our amazing experiences overseas. I'd love to share more about my Burma and Japan experiences with people who actually care or are interested...I think it makes a lot of people here (in WY at least!) feel a little uncomfortable because it's SO foreign (literally!) So, thanks for sharing this post! I love it!

  2. Nice breakdown, Leah.

    I don't like to tell people about where I've lived and grew up too much. It is too complicated, usually involves a lot of questions that I'm not always up for answering and I think, like you sometimes seems as though I am bragging. I love how I (we) grew up, but a lot of people just aren't that interested. Plus, no matter how fascinating I think it is, there are a lot of other interesting things about me that I'd rather focus on.

    You are correct, we did live in Pakistan five years before you were born, but we were only in The Gambia for three years, not four and you were right about the high ceilings and fan. Funny that you remember that!