I am an a bit of an anomaly. I am not of Middle Eastern descent. I have no family ties to the region. I am not tied to any particular religion. Before my first adventure to the region, I had a bleak image in my head of what to expect. Honestly, I thought, desert? Now, I have a deep love and passion for the Middle East. I love the people, the languages, the food, the climate and the culture of the Middle Eastern nations. I am currently a graduate student pursuing a double master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Global Policy Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.  I recently finished  a Fulbright Fellowship: English Teaching Assistant in Turkey. I am honing in on my area of focus: political movements and foreign policy in the Levant. 

Have fun. 
Go outside of my comfort zone. 
Breathe deeply. 
See vastly. 
Challenge the status quo.
Do yoga. 
Run till I hit my max.
Climb & explore. 
Try anything once. Yes, anything. 
Eat delicious foods.

A little bit of my travel history:
2013: I am missing traveling. This year I had the opportunity to travel to Israel, the West Bank and Colombia. 
2012: I began 2012 with visits to the Republic of Georgia and Armenia, new worlds for me. I also explored much more of Turkey and traveled to and from France a few times. After the summer expired, I began grad school in Austin. 
2011: I visited Lebanon, a country I have been aching to visit since my first travels to the Middle East. I finally got a new passport and could travel there this summer. I only spent ten days there, but we definitely saw a lot. I also spent the remainder of the year (from Sept.-Dec) in Turkey, traveling extensively throughout the country. I also made it over to Israel to visit when my aunt and mother were traveling over there! 
Summer of 2010 I spent in Cairo, Egypt- I was on a scholarship for an intensive Arabic program (Critical Language Scholarship) with the US Department of State.
Spring 2010: I participated in an independent study abroad program on Kibbutz Na'an in Rehovot, Israel where I studied Hebrew for 4 months and worked in the gardens and the kitchen.
In the Fall of 2009, I attended the American University in Cairo for an intensive Arabic Language Institute. I visited Turkey over Thanksgiving (ironic?!?) which may very well be my favorite country!
I spent the Summer of 2009 traveling through Belgium, France, and Croatia and working in Italy as an English teacher for two months.
Lastly, during the Summer of 2008 I studied at the University of Haifa for their intensive summer ulpans in Arabic and Hebrew and visited Jordan. 

As you may guess from my prior locations, I am passionate about the Middle East, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, and the culture and the socio-political sphere which constructs this unique region. People always ask me why? Why do you study Arabic and Hebrew, and now Turkish? Why do you want to work in a region riddled with conflict? I hope after reading my blog, things will become clearer. I challenge my blog readers to think outside the box, ask questions that might be politically incorrect to nurture understanding, and to "DIY." Go to the Middle East and see the unique beauty that is so dear to my heart.

For now.... I'm in to Graduate School at the amazing University of Texas at Austin, one of the nation's most prestigious Middle Eastern Studies Departments. I study Middle Eastern Studies and Global Policy- and continuing my studies of Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish!

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