Friday, September 30, 2011

What You Leave Behind

What you leave behind
Adventures are my thing. Were my thing. If there is a combination of the past and present tense to describe an action, this is where I would use it. Today I am left pondering what we leave behind when we seek adventure. This is for all you study abroaders, ex-pats, other Fulbrighters and PCV's who may be reading. When I go abroad, I tend to wear blinders. Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Belgium, France, Croatia, Italy, Egypt again, Israel again, Turkey, Lebanon... the list goes on. I become so entranced in the idea of the adventures that await me in my new country. The thrilling things I shall experience along my journey. The good street food, the open air markets, those random connections you make that change your perspective, the breathtaking sunsets, and maybe even the romance. All other thoughts of doubt, fear or insecurity are pushed out of my brain to make room for adventures. If you don't think about it, it seems less real. Focus on the positive, right? All that glass half-full stuff? Well, when I wear blinders, while I am truly able to singly focus on what is coming. I loose sight of the ideas that are trying to get to me before I leave, and even on my way there.
But this time it's different. This time I am different. In Turkey, I see things through different eyes. It isn't all adventure. It isn't purely exploration. This time, I am molding into society. I am not a study abroad student. I am resident of Duzce. No one is planning field trips for me, telling me my schedule, or cleaning my room. I put on my big girl pants and am creating a life for myself. I am an adult. And for the first time I am truly an adult, with a salary and a budget, and an apartment and no safety net. Oh, did I mention that I am abroad? And my Turkish is very slow? But it's more than that. I miss my family, my boyfriend, my best friends and my dog. I don't think I have ever posted about homesickness out of fear that people would perceive it as weakness, like I am not fully experiencing this amazing opportunity that has been gifted to me. Like adventure, when I feel homesickness coming on, I slam the blinders back on my head and plan lots and lots of trips to distract myself. This time, I can't. My sister is getting married. Today is my anniversary. My family and my church is going through beautiful times that I'm not there to be apart of. For the first time, I wish I was home. However, I would never, in a million years, go home. Or choose differently. I am very happy in Turkey, more so than I thought I'd be. It feels like home. But I miss the home I have in people too. I want hugs from the people I love.
So the message, besides all this sappy stuff? Be real with yourself. Allow yourself to experience all your emotions fully too. What you left behind shapes who you are just as much as the experiences you are living now. Blinders work for a while, but you can't go through life with only highs. It is the lows that make the highs truly extraordinary.


  1. I remember those days. They are not easy but with wonderful people around you they become easier to bare. I admire you for continually taking new adventures and I hope you see what you are providing us all with your amazing stories. This is one more step in the scheme of line.

  2. this is a great post - so great to hear some honesty. study abroad is one thing, but really digging in and making a home in a new place, especially when you already *have* a home somewhere else is such a challenge.


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