“Abroad Changed Me,” Says Student Indefinitely Stranded in Cameroon


A Middlebury junior makes her eleventh phone call to the American Embassy while exploring the quaint streets of her host city.

Every year a cohort of Middlebury juniors return from abroad to announce that they cannot eat dining hall pizza or drink wine from a box or be a decent person anymore simply because abroad “changed them.” This year is no different as Erica Kaiser ‘21 claims that simply being stranded in Cameroon with no timeline of when she can possibly return to her family may have an effect on the rest of her life.

Although Kaiser signed up for an immersive experience, she is now complaining that being at the mercy of each and every whim of the Cameroonian government with no response from the American Embassy on how to act is somewhat psychologically draining. 

“Ugh, it’s like, every four days or so when Erica’s able to access wifi she tells us about how she’s trapped in Cameroon,” said P. Atriot ‘21, an alleged friend of the student. “We get it. You went abroad. Whatever.”  

Much like other students, Kaiser had formerly been known to joke about how abroad wouldn’t change her. Now, however, after being sealed within Cameroon as part of their COVID-19 response, she feels differently. When Kaiser returns her friends expect her to smoke cigs at every party, throw French slang into conversations, and call her therapist twice a day to talk her down from panic attacks induced by being stranded for months in a foreign country just like the annoying kids that go abroad always do.

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