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January 5, 2014

Befuddlement as Winter Break Comes to a Close

Going back as far as I can remember, summer visits to the States were an exceptional treat. When we lived in South Africa, flying to the US meant a layover in Amsterdam, and my brother and I would play in the kid’s room on the jungle gym. (I knew I was getting old when I grew taller than the slide.) The long travel time was definitely worthwhile. I would watch movies on the plane, color, and eat, and then get off in the strange and wonderful land of America.

Amy at Schipol Airport

Me on said slide.

The first few nights felt endless as jet lag would leave me waking up at 3 or 4 AM, but the Texas sun and activity quickly resolved that problem. Vacation time was spent visiting family and friends, eating at our favorite restaurants, spending a couple of days at the beach, a potential trip to Six Flags*, and doing lots of shopping for items that were unavailable wherever we were living.

At the beach in Texas

At the beach in Texas

Though our summer holidays were wonderful in every sense, towards the end of our stay, I would begin aching to go HOME. Living out of a suitcase seemed cool for a few weeks, but then it became tiresome. I missed school, my dog, and especially my bed. Walking into a crowd of people, breathing in the heavy, humid air, and hearing the bustle of the 4 AM traffic in Dakar left me sighing in relief, and the small annoyance of saying “non, merci” over and over as people forcefully attempted to guide me to their taxis felt good.

I still miss my dog–she died.

Of course, each place had different welcoming traits, but no matter where we were living, going to and coming home from the US were exciting experiences that I miss terribly, even though I have only been away for a couple of months. I have felt more at home these past few weeks than I have in the US, and though a significant chunk of this is due to being with my family, I think it also has to do with the familiarity of the unfamiliar. I am used to not understanding what people around me are saying, different currencies, cultures, and customs. Now the roles of ‘overseas’ and ‘the USA’ have swapped against my will–Turkey has become my special treat and America has become my official place of residence.

Christmas dinner with my family

Reading over this left me thinking that what I have written sounds a bit confusing. Pretending that I am an outside observer to what I have written, it appears that my conflict could be resolved if I treat the US as ‘overseas’ and Turkey as ‘the US’, but that doesn’t make sense either. I suppose that as long as I keep visiting Texas over the summer, Massachusetts can be the overseas I strongly desire, but then where does Turkey fit in? Perhaps I need to reevaluate my expectations set by a previous lifestyle, and quit trying to force my current situation into a mold of how I grew up.

I feel perplexed: I am excited for next semester, I am not excited to leave Turkey, a trip to Six Flags over Texas sounds great right now, and I can’t figure out how to conclude the jumble of conflicting thoughts presented in this post.

*my favorite ride

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