Well, here it is. My last blog post.
I’ve really enjoyed blogging, and I might start another someday, but I like that this one tells a specific story about a specific time in my life. Oman will always be a part of me, but Oman is not my whole life anymore and it is time to move on to other projects.
“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place… like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” -Azar Nafisi
Looking back on my past posts it sounds like I am describing an old friend, not an 119,499 mi² stretch of desert. And that’s what Oman feels like to me. An old friend who I miss in an achy sort of way. Who I worry about seeing again, because what if things have changed between us? What if she’s moved on or changed? Or worse… What if I’ve changed?
And I know I have.
It’s been a lifetime since I got back to America.
I expected coming back to high school to be hard, and in many ways it has been, but my senior year has turned out to be the best of my American high school experience. My classes are challenging and I have devoted, inspiring teachers. I’ve met some incredible people, and I’ve gotten much closer to many of my friends here. My first semester was hectic, but this semester things have calmed down a bit. It is crazy to think I am graduating in two months. I intend to spend my last 60 days of high school living life to the fullest and spending as much time with my friends as possible.
This is not to say that re-adjustment was easy. Reverse culture shock is a real thing, and, even after 10 months, sometimes it smacks me in the face. It is still hard to talk about my experience with other people in a way that feels genuine. I still don’t know how to explain my deep love for Oman and the people I left behind in words that seem sufficient.
Someone recently told me that after exchange it takes 2.5 times the length of the time you were abroad to truly readjust to your home country. I am not sure what they define as readjustment, but going by that rule I still have another 15 months before I achieve “normalcy.” Whatever that means. For now, I am fine with being the strange girl obsessed with Oman.
Last month YES Abroad flew me up to DC for an alumni workshop. I spent a week with 19 students from the United States, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Thailand, Kenya, Turkey, Philippines, Malaysia, and Mozambique talking about what it takes to be a changemaker. It was an incredible experience. I learned about the struggles of students in Ghana with disabilities, pollution in Kenya, and religious divides in India. Talking about the issues that face different countries around the world made me realize how much of a disconnect there sometimes is between what Americans perceive the developing world’s biggest struggles to be and what they actually are. Environmental degradation and pollution are huge issues in many developing countries, yet it is not even on many American’s radar. It was incredible to be in a room full of young people who were all so passionate about making their communities a better place. The only other time I’ve connected with a group of strangers so quickly was at my YES Abroad IPSE. I had deep talks about religion and love with people I’d known a matter of days. And of course there were nightly hotel room dance parties…
The workshop was inspiring and it made me realize that, despite the fact I am back in America, I am still an exchange student. Being an exchange student is so much more than your experience in your host country. And I love that. I love trying to explain the American political primary system to Omani friends over Snapchat. I love that on an average day my facebook newsfeed includes 8 or more languages and almost as many different alphabets. I love convincing others to take the leap and study abroad. While I am done with this blog, I am not done with my exchange. And I am not done with Oman.
I will go home someday.
I think if you searched this blog you would find that the most used word next to ‘Oman’ is ‘Home.’ It’s a concept that I have written about many times over the past two years. Almost exactly two years ago I said: “Home is a feeling, home is a place, home is the people you love.” That statement is true, but it’s both more and less than that. Home is the feeling in your gut that you are where you belong. I am lucky enough to say there are many places and people that make me feel that way. Oman is one of them, but so is Asheville. I know there will be many others and I am excited to find them.
For the third year in a row, I am entering April with no idea where I will be living in September. I’ve yet to choose a college. I am still considering a gap year because I haven’t gotten that ‘gut’ feeling at any school yet. My future is open and I’m excited, but also a little scared, just like I was in preparation for leaving for Oman.
And I think that is what life is about. Excitement and Fear and finding the places that connect you to your gut.
So this is it. Thank you for coming along for the ride. It’s meant the world to me.
A relevant growing up song.
P.s.- As always, if you want to learn more about YES or studying abroad please feel free to reach out to me through the comments or message me on Facebook.