|"Dress Like an Emirati" Night.|
From left: Argentina, USA, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Egypt, Palestine
I shouldn't have waited until the end to write this one.
I had so much more to say this semester, believe me. I wanted to talk about the purpose of education and the future of the Emirates from a business perspective. I wanted to describe the rapid-fire changes that are suddenly so normal, and perhaps even vital, to the life I've grown accustomed to. Here are some selections from different points – fragments of bigger ideas I never disciplined myself to develop.
|The Bosphorus | Istanbul, Turkey|
It wouldn't be this way if this place had not become such an authentic and meaningful home to me. This effect first became real upon my return from my spring break in Istanbul (which, unfortunately, you may never hear about, due entirely to my own blogging delinquency). I was fresh off of a magical experience and was finally feeling refreshed after a hectic round of midterms. And I was so happy to come home. Home: it's the place where your heart lies...
|The view from the world's tallest building.|
Taking a semester abroad (or any sort of international assignment, really) is, in one way, the creation of a new life. You put your old one on hold – suspend your cell phone service, your auto insurance, and you leave your car, apartment, friends, and family behind. In this old life's place, you build a new network predominantly from scratch. You reform habits according to the particular environment. The opportunities and conversations you encounter have a profound influence on your thoughts and even upon the impressionable portion of your personality. Free from the rigidity of your previous reputation, you have the ability to step outside your previous bounds to experience things you've never tried or had access to before. And this is liberating, because for a preordained amount of time, you can try out a new existence, risk-free.
|No longer simply the USA.|
As I sit here tonight, snatching a few precious moments to write, I am moved by the grandeur that my experience has filled me with. The truly intoxicating part, the reward beyond a course's final grade or a single highlight of any trip to any location, is the person I got to become when I stepped away from most of the institutions and functions that my life has previously been defined by. I started totally afresh. Friendships came easier here than ever before, and even today – my last day – I met ever the more persons whom I hope to see again. That's the biggest victory of all.
|Frankfurt, Germany: looking ahead to what dreams may come.|