For the past few weeks there has been this weird feeling building up deep in my guts. Slowly gathering each day waiting for a build up that is inevitably going to happen … the day I’m going to leave my cozy little apartment in Ivory Tower, leave the streets of Foggy Bottom, my classes at Elliot, taking the metro for the last time. Leaving the United States altogether.
When I first got my acceptance letter to GW, I was ecstatic. Not only because I got accepted to one of the greatest school in the United States but also because this university happened to be in Washington DC, a couple blocks away from the White house, the Lincoln Memorial and a walk from the Capitol and the Washington Monument. I was eager to set foot in the United States, a country that I only dreamt of visiting not only living in one of its greatest city, it capital no less, for a period of four months. However, the feelings of happiness were being tinged with little apprehension and fear. I was going to delve into the unknown, a place where I didn’t know anybody, thousands of kilometers away from the place a called home. As the days of my flight approached this mixture of sheer excitement and fear only grew stronger and when I set foot at the busy Dulles airport at 10 pm on a cold a rainy night, I knew everything would be alright.
Days, weeks and months have passed where I had the great opportunity to meet incredible from all over the world that I’m proud to call my friends. I settled into my room, figured out my classes and learned to use the washing machines for the first time trying not to shrink all my clothes. Planning trips and getaways was perhaps one of the most challenging things I had to do mainly because there was so much to see and so little time ! I am nonetheless happy and content with what I managed to visit in the US. Trying to race the clock and fit everything one should see in New York in a mere four days was rewarding, exciting and exhausting. I absolutely adored the rhythm and tempo of the City that Never sleep and loved how the very feel of the city would change when you’d turn around a corner or change boroughs. Baltimore proved to hold my personal record of best seafood I’d had and although it the weather wasn’t very clement that day it had been an enjoyable day nonetheless. The much anticipated Spring Break in Puerto Rico was the culmination of everything I wanted it to be and exceeded my wildest expectations: deliciously fresh food, paradise-like beaches, warm humid weather that made my hair go cray cray, and the great company that I was blessed with.
My time here at GW wasn’t me trotting around the country although I really wanted it to be. Classes were interesting as they were intriguing especially one of my acting classes in which I got to push boundaries in myself that I didn’t even knew existed. The ride was also bumpy like everything in life but I learned to deal with it and ultimately overcome it a learn from the mishaps and the failures and hopefully it had made me a better, stronger person.
A handful of weeks ago, I received an e-mail from the Exchange office back at my hometown university Alakhawayn University, asking us all exchange students abroad to write a little paragraph describing our experience abroad. These messages were going to be shared with other students who wish to go on a semester or year abroad and it made me ponder about my time here. My exchange experience has been about being in new places, meeting new people and discovering new things. But it has been much more than that. In fact this experience is also about getting to know yourself. When you’re put in situations that you’ve never been before, whether you have to deal with difficult classes, figuring out your budget, planning trips, approaching people, dealing with an illness, feeling homesick or just feeling bad and vulnerable. You end up learning from everything and ultimately growing as person. It’s also about sharing the little things with the people you’ve met that have become your friends; being able to just hang out in comfortable silence or make jokes or tell your day or even rant about a bad day. That’s what’s exchange is all about, knowing yourself to know people and build ties with them that grow over time. The shyness and politless of the first week is slowly replaced by regular movie/pizza nights, inside jokes, new songs and even a group name and printed t-shirts !
None of this would have been possible without the support both financial and personal of my parents whom I have terribly missed especially in situations where I’m lost and I need advice. Also, the amazing Exo Leaders group and Shawna and Hilary who have tirelessly worked to make our stay here as confortable and enjoyable as possible and made sure we didn’t need anything. To my beloved exchange group, guys it’s been a great ride, you will be terribly missed and I hope to see you soon. To my peeps, the “running” club, oh you guys, a reunion is most definitely in order, I want to take you back with me because I’ve grown so used to your presence. To everyone my path happened to cross I say thank you. My life has been blessed with you presence and know that I will never forget you.
As corny as this last post must sound like and I know it is corny, I will allow myself a little bit of corniness because the words I’m writing now sitting in my desk, tears pickling the corner of my eyes, are true.
Thank you GWU, DC, for hosting me, it has been a blast and I hope to come back soon..ish.