The End (for now): part two.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The title of this post is identical to one that I wrote last year around this time, which you can read here.

Last year, right around the end of April, first week of May, I wrote a blog post about finishing out my first year of college. The end to a very major chapter of my life. The end...for now. I wrote about adapting to change, growth in confidence, growth in spirituality, and all of the lessons I've learned.

I am in such a similar place right now. Despite the large differences, I am closing the chapter to a major season of my life, my bags are packed, I have evaluated the changes and shiftings and moldings within myself and I am headed home.

The semester is over.

I wrote those same words almost exactly a year ago, and now I am writing them again. Something has ended, a season has come to a close - it's time to shut the cover on this story. It is over. As much as I know that I will be encountering this same strange concoction of emotions all throughout the rest of my life, it still leaves me with the same bittersweet taste in my mouth, swept up in a storm of excitement and anticipation of going home paired with the nervousness and fear of the change that will be present in my life.

I've been in this place before, but it feels just a tad different this time around.

Perhaps it's the fact that this is the longest I've been away from home. From my parents. From Dinuba. Or maybe it's because I've been on the other side of the world, seeing life through the lens of another culture, being fascinated everyday by so-called "normal" doings, eating food completely unfamiliar to me and literally "going native" in a new world.

Even though I recognize the bittersweet sting within me, it feels just a little bit stronger this time. Just enough to make me cringe a little harder, squeeze my internal emotions a little tighter, tie the string around my collective calmness in a double knot rather than one, and make me breathe a little slower, reminding myself that I am safe, I am loved, and I am fine. Even though I know the space I am in is very similar to where I was last year, it feels so much more intense this time around.

I have to say good-bye to so much tonight. To this amazing semester, to my outstanding professors and program assistants, to the Middle East which has touched my heart in so many different ways, to early morning adventures and late night escapades, to the other 21 students who have become my closest friends, my family, my support system and my community. I have to say farewell to the carefree "everyday-is-a-new-and-unfamiliar-adventure" attitude, to tour busses and program-paid buffet meals. I have to let go of the constant pack, unpack, repack and unpack cycle, the many different beds which have provided me adequate rest, limited laundry, and ridiculously cool foods I have eaten. Small things I don't know if I'll miss, but part of me knows that I will be wishing for it a week from now.

I will miss so much.

I will only list one, because I think it might be the one I will miss the most. I will miss the laughter of group. I will miss the distinct laughing styles people have, the collective noise our group makes when something funny happens - the joy that is contained in sounds our body makes when we laugh...I will miss that so much. It reminds me of carefree hikes through the snow in Konya, naked dance parties in hamams, Heather cursing during Islam lectures, and anything/everything Annie or Sam has said.

Tomorrow (which begins at exactly midnight) is going to be one hell of a day.

I've been putting off dealing with this strange swirl of emotions all semester. Literally telling myself to stay in the moment, that worrying and thinking about home will come when it is time to go home. Well, that time has come. Yes, the semester has ended and we are headed home. Yes, the bus will come pick us up at quarter to 1 this morning, we will drive through a dark and sleeping Israel, arrive at the airport and begin the long journey home.

I've decided instead of telling you what is going to happen as I make the 22 hour trip home (give or take hours for time differences), I'm going to be charting what I'm feeling, what I'm experiencing, and what I'm seeing throughout the day which will be posted upon arrival home. Be on the lookout for that.

In the meantime, I don't have much more to say about the idea of going home.

I loved everything about this semester. It has literally changed my life.
I have changed so much.

I am no longer the scared, nervous, and insecure girl I was prior to coming on this trip. I have gained confidence, security, a rejuvenated sense of spirituality and an intense leap in academia. I cannot express to you in words how much this change has meant to me. I am a different person, but I feel as though those changes have opened my eyes to so much.

Here's a quick photo flashback over this semester. Even in these photographs, I see how I have changed. The differences are incredible.

This is the end.
Well, at least for now.

Every end leads to a new beginning, and whatever beginning I will find tomorrow as I arrive home will be one that opens the door to something fresh, something unseen, something that will beg me to put as much energy, excitement and enthusiasm into it as I have put into this semester.

The journey does not end here.

Life is a journey, life begs me to be energetic, excited and enthusiastic every day, and who is to say I can't do that just because I'm not in an incredible place like the Middle East anymore? As I arrive back in America and begin the re-entry process, I hope and pray that I will be able to implement that into my everyday life. I don't know what tomorrow will hold, but I know that every time I've said that over this past semester, I have reminded myself that God has it in his hands, and this is no exception. He will be with me every step of the way, as I arrive back in the US of A and am reunited with family and friends.

I'm not sure how to end this blog post, but I suppose that is fitting considering the fact that I am finally understanding that what I've learned and experienced this semester does not end here either - yes, the educational tourism is over, but that doesn't mean I won't be taking in everything, looking, listening, and learning for the rest of my life.

This is just another step.

"Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled."

Respectfully submitted,