This post was authored by Mika White
My friend Brin and I were so excited to be in Ethiopia – we heard it was a beautiful place with wonderful food and rich culture. We had planned this five-day trip as a visa-renewal trip, and after exploring the capital Addis Ababa for two days, chose something around #21 of things to do in Ethiopia on TripAdvisor: Wenchi Crater Lake. It sounded simple. To get there, we would take a bus from Addis Ababa to the small town of Waliso where we would take another local bus that would take us out to the crater lake and natural hot springs. We first made the mistake of thinking that it would be an accessible, commonly traveled-to place.
We boarded a bus that took us 9km out to the tiny town of Chittu and realized that we were still very far from the crater. The transportation system was completely incomprehensible – nothing was written down, there was no proper bus schedule, and we had no idea where we were actually going. The driver stopped and everyone unboarded the bus, so we had reached the end of the line, with no crater in sight. I felt like the idiot from An Idiot Abroad, trying to navigate in a country where I could communicate with virtually no one, with no cell phone service or proper instructions on how to get anywhere.
So here we were, two young white girls in this little town where no one could speak English, looking for a lake that turned out to be about 30km (about 18.5 miles) away. We weren’t aware of this minor detail, so after disembarking the bus at the end of the line, we just started walking down a never-ending road that seemed to be in the direction of the mountain. After walking for about an hour, we concluded that we weren’t going to make it in time. We ended up hitching a ride back to town to confirm with locals that there was no way we would make it to the mountain by nighttime.
That evening, after we took the same bus back to Waliso, we approached a large number of people at our restaurant to ask if they knew of any drivers in the area who could take us. We happened to meet the nicest people from Save the Children who offered to take us, since their office was apparently not far away. The next day, we headed out, passed the small village from the previous day, and made it to the crater. They joined us in our hike and made it the most spontaneous, memorable trip I’ve had. The crater and springs were as beautiful as we had hoped, but the journey made it even more special and worthwhile.
A lot of things generally deemed unacceptable and careless are actually okay. It’s okay to be lost sometimes. It’s okay to wander and see what happens. It’s okay to rely on others. If you haven’t seen the parallels already, these hold true for the career path as well. Luckily, we have a lot of people who can help you figure out what you want to do when you are feeling lost. You can always call or schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor in the Stearns Center. Who am I to be speaking, as an undergrad who is just embarking on my own journey? I can speak from hearing the experiences of others, and from knowing that opportunities will arise, as long as I am attentive and working hard towards something.