Saturday, March 17, 2012

Here's to a fantastic 20th birthday!

March 15th 2012: birthday kedi, sitting atop the dessert waffle I received (they don't really do birthday cakes in Turkey).

In the first case of being away from home, friends, and family on my birthday, I celebrated 20 amazing years with great friends, great food, and snowy weather to match! It was a great day, and I feel loved, appreciated and joyful! I can't believe I am already 20, and even though that feels ridiculously old, I know there are many more years out there to explore, learn and grow.

A large group of us took to a local Italian restaurant for dinner, where we grubbed on great pasta and other delicious foods. It was an amazing 20th birthday, and lots of fun! Nothing says "CONGRATS-ON-BEING-20-HOMEGIRL" like 19 loud and out of control American college kids taking over a restaurant.

"I'm presenting you to the world!" - Whitney

Da boys enjoying a smoke.

(also, Whitney's face. Don't worry girl, lent will be over soon.)

Celebrating a birthday in a foreign country was definitely an experience to remember. I really missed being around family, but then again these crazy kids who joined me on this adventure to Turkey have become my family in a sense, and I don't think I really want it any other way. We have all grown so close over the past 10 weeks (yes...10 WEEKS!) and I know we'll only grow closer as we round out to the last month together before we all head our separate ways at the Frankfurt airport come May 1st.

Upcoming events that I am getting ridiculously stoked about...
  • A long weekend at an environmental farm, outside of the city where we will learn about environmental sustainability in Istanbul and Turkey as a whole. Time to process our stay in Turkey, since our visas expire in two weeks and we basically have to leave the country. But that's okay because we get...
  • TWO WEEKS to explore all that JORDAN (our replacement Arab country for Egypt) has to offer! On the schedule as of now - jeep tours, the Dead Sea, camel rides, and a slew of guest speakers talking about the Palestinian issue to Syrian refugees now living in Jordan.
  • ISRAEL AND PALESTINE! I am going to get myself so many pairs of baby-catcher pants its not even going to be funny.
  • And then? Home. Which still sounds a little funny in my head...
Upcoming events that I am not so stoked about...
  • Final exams. Yes, its exam week, which means I need to go study and prepare for the essays and short answers I will have to write. We finished out our classes on Friday, and we have 3 days of exams before we can call a close on those classes. Early Christianity Class will continue into our time in Jordan, Israel and Palestine.
So, in a nutshell my life is amazing here.

I do miss America, please - don't get me wrong. I miss pancakes, in N out, American music and people who speak my language. But I also love being in a place where no one knows me, no ones knows my story and I'm basically a new friend to everyone I meet here. I love studying in little cafes and exploring the city on my own. I love speaking Turkish (and feeling quite confident, to be honest!) taking crazy taxi cabs to local bars and hanging out with friends. I love becoming close friends with Westmonsters I barely knew at the beginning of this semester, and seeing friendships grow as we go through this insane adventure together.

Its going to be so weird to return to the states.

Yesterday, as I was riding in the back of a cab down an empty freeway over to Baghad street for drinks with a small group of friends, it hit me once again. I am so far away from home. Yet, I feel fine. I feel as if this place has become home to me - and yes, it took a while, but I consider this city home. It feels comfortable, it feels worn in, and it feels good.

I'm learning so much on this trip. Aside from the education aspects, which is a HUGE chunk - I'm learning a lot about myself. How I handle the unknown, how I manage a positive attitude and motivate myself, how I handle struggles, insecurities, and roadblocks, and where I find my joy. I have grown so much over the past 10 weeks, and I am still growing. Part of my doesn't want this adventure to end, because it means I have to go back home and somehow fit into the mold that I left behind. I'm not sure I will be able to fit into that space I left anyway, not with the new knowledge and discoveries I have made while being away. Things will be different, but I will have to adapt. I wish I could freeze this moment, smile, and stay in that space forever. Where everything fits perfectly, runs on time, and feels comfortable, broken in, and good.

Life goes by far too quickly. But I am excited for the future, and the years to come. 
Here's hoping it only gets better from here.

Respectfully submitted,

Here's a new addition I'm going to start adding at the end of my updates. I've been listening to a lot of music lately, and I want to share some of the songs that help me process my life everyday and keep me going. Take a moment to look up a few and move into the musical space of mind. 

"Lakehouse" - Of Monsters and Men
"Darlin" - Between the Trees
"Flume" - Bon Iver
"Why am I the One" - Fun.
"White Dress" - Parachute
"Be My Escape" - Relient K
"What Makes You Beautiful" - One Direction
"Heartbeats" - Jose Gonzalez
"Sunflower Man" - The Waifs
"Turn Me On" - Norah Jones
"Make You Feel My Love" - Adele
"Two Weeks" - Grizzly Bear
"King of Spain" - The Tallest Man on Earth
"Better" - Regina Spektor
"Winter Winds" - Mumford & Sons