imageI don’t remember much from my childhood abroad. But I remember most of my time in West Africa as teenager. My T blog musings is about being a teenager abroad.

The teen years are the years when we are developing fully from being a child into adulthood. It’s tough years with a body in constant change. The hormones seem for periods to take over the mind and body. It’s years when we struggle to free ourselves from our parents and society and finding out who we are. At one point we want to be exactly like our friends, then we want to be unique and special. You know all this. It’s years I wouldn’t want to live again if I had the chance.

Many teenagers go abroad for a year or two, something I fully support. I think everyone needs to see the world, if possible, and be confronted with own prejudices and thoughts about world. At the same time the teens is an age where we are fragile and easily manipulated and influenced, an age where we in many ways still are children, though we want to be treated as adults.

To me, going abroad at the age of sixteen was crucial. I had already lived a year on my own, something that was too early in retrospect. Though I was adult in my own eyes, I was still a child, but forced to be adult too early. To live in a dormitory school with strict religious and cultural rules was something I needed to relax and concentrate on getting adult, without having to think about how to pay my next rent or how to get myself food.

But I struggled with adapting for many months. I had lived by myself for a year with no one looking after me. Now I had rules for everything. I wasn’t in charge. The rules were oldfashioned in my view, especially those based on religion and gender. I came from a very openminded and democratic country. The school system was also very different. I was used to classes where we debated and where the tests challenged us to debate pro and contra. I was used to being taught. Here we usually only read books and answered questions about what we had read, and then we had multiple choice tests. But I didn’t move here because of the school and as it turned out, I had to take this school time again when returning to Norway.

As teenagers always find solutions in face of rules, so did we. I went to night clubs here too. I had boyfriends, older than me, here too. We were teenagers, even if we lived in a foreign country. My time in West Africa was good for me. Mostly because I was together with other teenagers who were like me: missionary kids, embassy kids, third culture and cross cultural children. I calmed down from my restlessness. These people understood me. Here I was normal, not an outsider.

If you want to read more about my A-Z blog, see here. My other A-Z posts are here.

The picture is taken by me in the Vigeland sculpture park in Oslo.

Advertisements