“Why the Ivory Coast?” I hear you ask.
I am off to work in Abidjan (the capital city) through a youth organisation called AIESEC, who organise internships for students and graduates worldwide. After an initial interview, applicants interested in the scheme are placed on an online portal with thousands of opportunities at their fingertips. Naturally, I had a lot of fun browsing through these and readily submitted applications for opportunities across India and South East Asia. A couple weeks later I logged back into the portal and this particular opportunity in the Ivory Coast was at the top of my home page.
My aim in applying for these placements abroad had always been to push myself further out of my comfort zone (following a relatively easy integration into Australian culture during my year abroad, despite feeling less confident on departure to the other side of the world). The Ivory Coast appealed particularly due to the French spoken there. (Background info: I went to primary school in French whilst being brought up in Belgium, but despite efforts to keep it up, my level of fluency in the language has dwindled in recent years). I thus applied, and proceeded to complete a couple of further interviews after which I was offered the position of Marketing Manager in a local language centre in Abidjan for 6 months. Nothing ever came of the opportunities in Asia, and there you have it: I’m off to the Ivory Coast! So yes, the country selection was in some senses a bit random (I could have ended up working on a boat in Vietnam!) but in other ways was carefully selected, and had I not been able to speak French I would never have been offered the job!
Things I am looking forward to:
- Improving my French (oh wait, you read that ramble above).
- Living with a host family: which will hopefully ease my integration into the new culture.
- Living in (almost) the same time zone as the UK! No skype calls at 3am YES.
- Discovering more about a country which seems (from my research) considerably under-documented by travellers.
- Though I will be primarily be based in Abidjan, I hope to see more of the country in my time off, and hopefully a couple of other West African countries following the completion of my placement… more on this to follow once I have settled in!
Fun fact: last week I purchased the first edition of the first ever English guide book dedicated to the Ivory Coast, which was only published 2 months ago! (how crazy is that!)
I have also downloaded a 2015 French guidebook to my Kindle, along with the Lonely Planet ebook on West Africa, so hopefully between the three I should be well equipped for my adventure! However, I’m sure it won’t all be as simple as having a collection of guide books to hand, so you can look forward to the odd mishap and funny story.
That’s all for now, T minus 21 hours until my departure.
Speak to you all from Côte d’Ivoire!