I just finished reading the book The Worst Date Ever, written in a laugh-out-loud style by Jane Bussman about her life as a celebrity journalist in Hollywood. It describes how she suddenly became a pseudo-investigative journalist in Uganda.
Before the move, she hated her career, the people she worked for and the people she interviewed–but she was good at it.
Then one day, after hearing the story of the amazing John Prendergast and his Indiana Jones-esque work to end conflict and human rights abuses worldwide, inspiration struck and she decided to do something important-sounding as well (or possibly just marry him and call it all the same).
Long story short: She goes to Uganda to write a story on how John tries to end the government’s 20-year-long war with the Lord’s Resistance Army, but when John doesn’t even show up, she tries to be a real journalist anyways, and she somehow succeeds. What’s more is that she finds a way to make the story hilarious at every step of the way.
I’d like to find some inspiration from her story in my own study abroad experience. This trip to Lebanon was one that almost everyone told me was a bad idea. It was too dangerous, too unstable, not the right place to learn, too Arab, too Western, etc. I went anyways. As it turns out (though I take no credit for any meaningful foresight – I’m just a lucky son of a gun), life here is pretty good. It’s safe as can be but still offers a first-hand look at a Middle East in the throes of radical change. The experience has offered me adventures at every turn.
I think the most important lesson I learned from Jane Bussman’s comic tragedy was to nevertake life, our careers or our studies too seriously. In her odd British way of saying it, we’re all just “cock-ups” in the end. That’s an important lesson to one living the abroad life. Studies aren’t all that important, and meeting some academic requirements shouldn’t warrant my attention – I should simply be focusing on the adventure. With my stay in Lebanon a little more than halfway done, I’ve already accrued an amazing number of stories and experiences. But, Miss Jane Bussman–with your ability to jump from writing puff pieces on Ashton Kutcher to serious exposés on child soldiers to incomprehensibly funny reflections on the whole thing–you’ve inspired me to pick my own game up a notch by truly finding the adventures worth writing. Touché.