Eric Lesner
Eric Lesner
Ethiopia 2015
Eric Lesner - Finance major, Belmont University class of 2015. Originally from Oswego, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I am the Chief Financial Officer of Belmont Enactus and will be working with Ellilta Women at Risk, an organization that helps women transition out of prostitution in Ethiopia. Read More About Eric →

So it Begins

Salam! Greetings from Addis Ababa!

These last couple of days have been hectic, but I’m glad to have my feet firmly planted on the ground now.

My journey started on Friday, 5/15, when I left Nashville for Chicago. I was going to have to fly out of Chicago anyway, so I decided to spend my last two days in the country visiting my family there. After the brief stay, which of course felt far too short, it was time to depart.

The trip took me from Chicago’s O’Hare airport to Frankfurt, Germany (pictured in this post), for a four our layover. From there, I flew to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, before finally arriving in Addis. (Total travel time: 23 hours)

Breakfast in Frankfurt Airport

Breakfast in Frankfurt Airport

I arrived in Addis at 9pm local time. I was a very interesting mix of tired, energetic, scared and excited. Just four years ago, moving to Nashville felt like the biggest move I could possibly make. Now I can sit back and laugh at that.

It took another hour once on the ground to find my luggage, get through immigration, and to find my host. I was thrilled for the last part, as it meant a bed and food, which were high on my priority list at the moment.

My housing arrangement for this trip allows for a high level of immersion with the local culture. It is a small compound, with about 10 stand alone rooms. Each room is roughly 8×10 which provides enough room for a bed, a chair, and a shower. The owner rents rooms to individuals on a monthly basis, and has been successful so far with roughly an 80% occupancy rate. The immersion comes in very quickly here – I am the only American in this compound. In fact, I’ve yet to see another American since getting to Addis. It is an odd feeling of loneliness. Despite my being different, the owner and other residents have been very friendly. They have invited me to come to the common room with them to share a meal or have coffee. These gatherings have been a great opportunity for me to pick up on cultural norms and social cues, since I am only picking up a few words here and there in conversation. ( Amharic is spoken much more quickly in person that it was in the instructional videos I found on YouTube, go figure)

Now it is time to sleep and to try to get on the proper schedule. I am here, I have a very nice host, I have a room, and now I can get to work on what I came here to do.

One thought on “So it Begins”

  1. Hi Eric, hope you are getting settled in ok. It must be a very strange feeling to be the only American there. What a challenge to learn to communicate and experience another culture!! My thoughts and prayers are with you. Love ya, Aunt Kathleen

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