Over the summer break this year, I visited my home country Eritrea for the very first time. To many, my country is unknown to them due to its small size and the fact it is relatively a very young country. In 1991, my country gained independence from neighboring Ethiopia after a brutal war was fought. Although the war resulted in many casualties and tragedies, it also resulted in freedom. However, this sense of freedom was short-lived due to extremely complicated political problems within the country.

Currently, Eritrean civilians have no access to direct and fast Wi-Fi and other necessities which leads to the country having a poor global reputation.

Traveling to my home country and seeing it for myself made me realize that everything that I had heard prior to my departure was false.

As odd as it sounds, it was as if I had been placed in a time machine and was living in the 60s. Everything was old-fashioned and vintage. To many, not having access to modern living conditions would be seen as a punishment rather than a vacation. But to me, it was the best thing to have ever happened to me. For possibly the first time in my life, I felt like I was truly living.  

In today’s world, our social life stems from social media. Everything seems to be through our phones these days which can be beneficial, but it can also be detrimental. 

Due to the political state of my country, Wi-Fi and social media access were almost nonexistent. At first, it was extremely hard for me to adjust to these unfamiliar living conditions. I went from waking up every morning and checking my Instagram feed to waking up without even glancing at my phone. This isolation from social media and society as a whole brought an immense amount of peace to my life and changed the way that I see the world in a way. 

However, what made this trip interesting was not the fact that I was able to adjust to the lifestyle as quickly and smoothly as I did, but rather the people who reside there who left me in awe.

The biggest observation I made in terms of the differences between life here and in my home country was the children. Growing up, playing outside with my siblings along with neighborhood friends was one of my favorite things to do. As I grew older, though, I stopped playing outside as much. This was primarily because I was introduced to technology such as my phone. 

As someone who has younger siblings and extended family, I have noticed that playing outside and interacting with kids their age is not something that is intriguing to the majority of children in today’s society. When offered the opportunity to go outside and play at family gatherings, the children often deny it and would much rather stay indoors and stay on their electronic devices.

In Eritrea, however, the childhood that the youth experience is the complete opposite. Electronic devices are almost nonexistent to the majority of children and the desire for social interaction is highly common among the youth. Due to this, the social life over there is something that I feel everyone should experience. 

I could go on and on about my experiences in Eritrea, but the biggest takeaway from my time there was that sometimes, less is more.

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