Tag Archives: living abroad

The Next Chapter

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I can’t believe I’m writing this post. 

It’s been just over a year since we moved out of our darling apartment in New York City. It feels like  only yesterday that I was gripping Tal’s hand as we drove across the Brooklyn Bridge, out of the city in which we’d fallen in love and built the foundations of our life together.

We weren’t just leaving our home, we were leaving our comfort zone.  We had virtually no idea what the year held for us, and we couldn’t have predicted it if we’d tried.

But after 368 days, 8countries, a few very special new friendships and what feels like a lifetime worth of spectacular experiences… we’re coming home.

In three weeks we will pack our giant suitcases for last time. Part of me is incredibly excited. I’ve missed the full extent of my wardrobe, ovens, predictable grocery items, familiar household bugs and of course our friends and family. But the other part of me knows that this is bittersweet.  As Tal likes to say, this year we were “citizens of the world”. And while we’ll always be a couple, and someday a family, who travel together, it will likely never be quite like this.

If I’m to be honest, it’s important that I admit that on many days I was angrier and more frustrated with the world than I knew I could be. But this exceptional opportunity also gave me the chance to witness unparalleled beauty in nature as well as humanity. With each new stamp in my passport, my view and understanding of the world expanded.  I am eternally grateful for the life changing experiences and unexpected, exceptional friendships that resulted from this crazy year.  

 

 

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Stiillll Gooooing

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Hey there! Remember me? I used to write a pretty Ok travel blog? Contrary to popular belief, I was not swallowed by a black hole. I am in fact still living abroad,  still having daily traumatic/fabulous adventures, and yes I’m still wildly confused 99% of the time…

Here are some updates:

Ulpan: I am bad at language learning. No. Seriously. BAD. Example: After 3 years of High School Spanish I had to take a State exam; I estimate that I wrote about a third of it in Spanish and simply added “O’s” to the end of English words for everything else. I foolishly soldiered on for another 2 years in college, and as my final presentation I recited a recipe for guacamole and called it a day.

When I sat down for my first day of Hebrew class, exhausted from our Kili climb and my red eye arrival to Israel, latent memories of Espanol lessons returning to me in vivid flashbacks, I lay my forehead on the cool desktop in front of me, took a deep breath and proceeded to give myself a few sharp smacks.  WHAT on EARTH was I thinking?!?!

I wish I could check my ego at the door and embrace mistakes in the name of progress, but despite my poor language skills and a slight lack of confidence, I’m making progress. Slowly but surely, I know stuff. Not as much as I want, and not as much as some of my incredible peers, but stuff. And that’s a lot more than I could say two months ago.

Living in Israel: Things I love: The gorgeous Mediterranean beach 3 blocks from my apartment, the mellow/laid back cafe culture, the incredible food (OH MY LORD THE DAIRY), the spectacular weather, and the proximity to Tal’s amazing family. Things I don’t love: The screwy politics, the high cost of living, the …different… perspective… on manners, and the void of religious life for reform Jews.

Being away from Tal: TRUTH: It sucks. I miss him like whoa. MORE TRUTH: We’re Ok. Actually, we’re better than Ok. And, AND, we’re going to see each other in  4 days, 9 hours and 27 minutes. Not that I’m counting.  SQUEEEEE!!!!!!

Other: I’m trying a new kind of fitness regiment called CrossFit, and I’m SUPER excited about it. I’d heard about it from ambitious friends for years, but I’ve always been a little intimated. However, a few weeks ago, I said to myself, “Self. YOU CRAZY. Look at everything you’ve done this year, are you seriously gonna let yourself be afraid of a few burpees?” My sassy inner goddess was really saying something so, so much bigger.

With the one year anniversary of this awesome adventure quickly approaching, I’m feeling sort of invincible.

My Summer Camp Theory

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I was never unrealistic about my expectations for living abroad. I knew there would be ups and downs of all kinds and I acknowledged that I had NO idea what to expect in either direction. But the one thing I wasn’t worried about? Homesickness.
See, when I was 10 my parents (finally) let me go to sleep away camp with my big brother for the first time. Though the session was a month long and my only opportunity to see or talk to my parents would be a few hours on visiting day, I wasn’t concerned. 

The way I remember my first day, it went something like this:

On a late June morning in 1996, I was crammed into the backseat of my family’s car on my to summer camp in upstate New York. It was my brother’s third year, but my first. I’d been begging to go for years, but my parents were still nervous I wasn’t ready.
Their concerns weren’t exactly unfounded. Even at the advanced age of 12, many of big Bro’s first letters, two years earlier, had been filled with bargaining tactics hoping they’d let him come home. He ultimately settled in and eagerly returned the next year. Although homesickness wasn’t a player that second summer, he arrived home at the end of the August session the proud owner of a certificate that read, “I survived puke-fest ’95”. My parents weren’t so sure I was ready for all that. I was sure I could puke with the best of ’em.

By the time we finally reached the Mennonite  farm at the entrance to Camp Road, I was completely restless.  My father had insisted on driving the speed limit the entire way. The farm’s owners, dressed in traditional garb, were out working in their corn fields and waved enthusiastically as we drove by. I was sure that we’d been driving SO slowly that we’d actually gone back in time.



Several hundred years later, we arrived in the village I was to call home for the next four weeks. Before the car had even stopped moving, I flung myself out the back door and into the cabin with my name on it.  Within seconds I was completely immersed in the very serious process of picking a bed (top bunk of course) and already chatting away with new friends.  When it was time for my parents to leave, the counselor had to remind me to say goodbye.

My empathy skills were still a tad underdeveloped, and I really couldn’t understand why so many of my friends were having such a hard time.  The only tears I shed that summer were on the final day of camp when my cruel parents dragged me home, kicking and screaming. I went back for 9 summers, each with the same story.

And that is why I was POSITIVE that  though I fully expected to encounter all kinds of struggles here in India, homesickness would surely not be one of them.

I was wrong.

I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a very belated apology to my dear bunkmates. I get it now. I’m sure that, “You miss your parents and your bed? Well just stop missing them and you’ll feel better!” probably wasn’t helpful advice.

This morning I woke to find my Facebook newsfeed overwhelmed with updates about the final days of the July 2012 session of camp, posted by my lucky friends and former campers who are still able to return as staff. The photos are filled with children and teens grinning from ear to ear- not out of obligation but out of pure, unadulterated, unmatched, uninhibited joy. There is no. doubt. in. my. mind. that many of those same campers spent the first many days of July crying, and missing home. Many probably thought that they’d never make it through the month, they’d never have any fun, and they’d never come back a second summer. But they did and they will, and their beautiful smiles are proof.

And I will get over this too, and I’m sure that on my final day in India Tal will have to call my parents for tips on how to get me to leave.