Ghana 2012-2013
My name is Alysa Michelle Meisterling. In September 2012, I will be traveling to Ghana, Africa for five months, where I will be teaching a range of subjects for kids ages 6-12. This is the first chapter of my beautiful adventure. Read More About Alysa →

Now that I’m home

I’m a dreamer. I’m an optimist. I’m an absolute failure and a complete success. I cry. I smile. I laugh. I scream. I am an old soul. I believe in fairytales. I never settle. I think with my heart. I believe in the truth. I believe in living each day like your last because you just never know if you’ll ever get the chance to be in that moment again. I believe in seeing the beauty in the smallest things in life. I believe in soulmates. I believe in laughing so hard you pee your pants. I believe in following your heart. I believe in spontaneity because who wants a boring life anyways? I believe in forgiveness because time is only wasted without it. I believe in making and accepting mistakes. I believe in taking chances. I believe life is beautiful.

To my beloved Ghana,

You’ve given me more than I could ever ask for. Looking back on the past 6 months of my life, I feel...different. You showed me things about myself and about life that I otherwise never would have known.

Most 22 year old Americans don’t get to say they spent 4 1/2 months in another country, a third-world country on top of that. Most people back home thought I was insane, and when I told this to my Ghanaian friends they’d laugh at me like I was comparing surviving their country like it was surviving a war. Funny this is to many Americans, it would be. But this beautiful, peaceful third-world country became a newfound home. This country was constantly teaching me about the type of person I am and the person I want to be. I have a love/hate relationship with this country in the sense that sometimes the people and the places and essentially just the extreme differences drove me crazy. I didn’t understand it. There are still things to this day I just don’t understand about their culture... And I don’t think I’m supposed to. But then the love I found in this country, in the way that they love God and each other and life... It makes you look at your life and realize just how insignificant you are in the bigger picture.

As many of you know, I spent the past month, after I left Ghana, backpacking through Europe. I met two friends from home in London and from there, we took trains and planes and all kinds of transportation to visit all the beautiful countries we got to see. We were always on the go, starting from London, to Amsterdam, to Frankfurt, to Luzern, to Paris, to Barcelona, to Nice, to Milan, to Rome, to Berlin, and then back up to London again! It was a long, exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, expensive, spontaneous, and altogether incredibly life-changing moment. I got to do something that most college graduates only Talk about doing, but many never get around to it. After completing this trip, I have now officially been to 14 countries total, not including my own. To say I am blessed would be the biggest understatement I have ever made. I am eternally and forever grateful to my family and friends and most mama and step-dad. Without them, none of what I have gotten to do the past 2 years of my life, studying abroad in Australia included, would have ever been possible. Their support and their love has been my rock. They are two of the greatest people I have ever known, and I thank God for them every single day.

I have fought with myself and prayed countless times about where I go from here. I’ve been graduated for almost a year now, and spent the past six months volunteering, traveling and experiencing new places and people and culture... So now what? Reality sinks in. I’ll be going back to my roots in the beautiful state of California. And I need to find work. The question is, what kind of work? Is it weird I have a degree in something, and it’s not what I want to all. While I adore writing, a job in journalism isn’t what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I’ve thought a lot about a job that would make me happy everyday, for a good length of time. So here is a small list of some of my goals over the next 5-10 years of my life. Granted, those that know me know my list and my plans are always subject to change. Things don’t work out, new things come up, and that’s just life. Optimism is a key part of the way I live my life. But these are some of my goals, and for now, this is what I will work towards:

1) I want to find a job that lets me work with kids

2) I eventually want to go back to school and get my teaching credentials

3) I want to one day write and publish a book about my travels

4) I want to move back to Ghana by some time next year

There are many more goals and bucket-listers that come with this... Paying off student loans, starting my life with the one I love, traveling to new countries I have on my list, etc.

Those that know me know I’m always up for something new. It’s hard to admit that I have to get a big girl job now because I often feel making a long term commitment would hold me back... But let’s be realistic. It’s time for me to have a job, start making and saving money, and start working towards the goals and things I want in life. I will always have that free-spirit in me and the constant need to go somewhere new, and I just pray I never lose site of that, and when an opportunity presents itself, I don’t hesitate to take it. Life is too short to not go after the things we want most.

I am stubborn and strong-willed. I have a big heart for this big world we live in. I am not assertive. I know who I am and what I want, and I’m not afraid to make and admit mistakes. If it weren’t for the mistakes we make in life, how would we ever grow?

For those of you who are reading this, who are from Ghana, specifically... I am sorry for the mistakes I made. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. I cannot change all that happened while I was there and the image some of you may have of me. But I hope you know and never forget that I loved and will continue to love your country always. I respect it. I admire it, and I some day soon hope to come back to it. To all of my Ghanaian friends and family- I will never forget you. I will cherish and love you whole-heartedly. I will be back... And that’s a promise (:

All my love,

Alysa Michelle Meisterling

“Not all those who wander are lost” J.R.R Tolkien

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