Friday, February 8, 2013

We're halfway there! O.o

Well, it only just occurred to me that I forgot to mention something:
That I have (as of yesterday) been in Egypt for five months (and as of today, living in Alexandria for five months) with five months left to go!

It seems so unreal to think so.
It honestly doesn't feel like it. Usually. I've had this same feeling about time in general anyway for the past several years of my life, that it feels as though it's passing really quickly, and yet if I think back in time even just a few months, it feels like it was an eternity ago and yet somehow yesterday at the same time.
This is no less true in terms of this experience for me.
The first days that I arrived in this country seem so incredibly long ago, and yet at the same time it feels like five months have vanished in the blink of an eye.

Many things have happened in these five months, obviously. I've learned so much, made so many new friends, come to so many incredible realizations, and...I feel like I understand the world so much better.
I've experienced, felt, and learned a crazy amount of things that I probably would never have even contemplated if I had just stayed at home and comfortably lived this sophomore year of mine back in the United States.

In short, it certainly has not been easy or perfect. There have been days where I felt miserably low, lonely, and terrible, and felt like I had lost all hope. But I made it through them, and was quite handsomely rewarded, because the positive things that I have felt and experienced since I got here outnumber the negative ones by at least a million.

Coming here was truly one of the greatest decisions that I have ever made in my life so far. And I am starting to realize that now, I really feel comfortable here. I know enough of the language to express myself and communicate with others decently, I know the local culture well enough to comfortably interact and deal with people, I know more or less what to expect, and I have enough connections here in terms of friends and such that I truly feel supported and at home.
I truly feel happy, more or less all the time at this point.
I mean, there are still bad days every now and again. But for the most part at this point, I really, truly feel like I'm happy, settled, and at home in this country.
And it's still an ongoing process; this continues to develop. Every day, I feel a little bit more comfortable and at home. Every day, I feel a little bit more proud of what I lived so far in this experience, and look a little bit more forward to what's left of it. Every day, I feel a little bit more like a member of my family. Every day my Arabic gets a little better (sometimes just by a word or two, but that counts, doesn't it?). Every day I fall in love with this country a little bit more. And every day I feel a little bit happier. And every day the thought of leaving this place terrifies me a little bit more than the day before.

This was the reason that, in all the years I've dreamed of going on exchange, I never even once considered a semester program - because I've heard the exact same story from returnee after returnee:
"I had a really successful and incredible time there, and would repeat it in a heartbeat, but I felt like I had to go home just when I was getting settled and comfortable."

Don't get me wrong, I think it's more than possible to have a successful and enjoyable exchange in just a semester. I know several people that are in or who went to their host countries on exchange for a semester program, and their exchanges were tremendously successful.
So, if you're planning and hoping to go study abroad, don't despair if a year program is not possible for whatever reason; you will certainly have a successful exchange in just a semester.
But be forewarned: It will be incredibly difficult to leave everything behind after only five or six months, probably more so than even I can imagine.

I know for me that, as I alluded to earlier, this period of incredible happiness has brought up some really worrisome thoughts at times about how I am simply not not ready to go home - and am very unlikely to feel any more so as time goes on (in fact, unfortunately, I guess the opposite is very much more likely).
But, for now, I'm trying not to give that too much thought.
For now, I'm simply trying to enjoy the fact that I have had a successful time here so far - not easy, but enjoyable and successful - and that I am fortunate enough to still have five months left in this amazing country to discover, develop, and enjoy even more so than I have in the first five months that I've been here, that I can look forward to.

Thanks to everyone who's supported me and who's made this possible so far!
And thank you all, as usual, for reading.

I thought that this song would be quite appropriate.


  1. Greetings, Nico. I'm loving your blog and your latest post tells me you're now hitting your stride. Good for you! I think that you'll find yourself sensing and understanding more and more of the subtleties and nuances of your wonderful host country. Have also loved your photos. Spectacular and fun. Be well. Uncle Jack

  2. Hey Uncle Jack!!!
    It's so great to hear from you again!

    Thank you so much for your beautiful words!
    Stay tuned for more, there's definitely more coming where that came from, ahaha!

    I will be well; you take care to and say hi to everybody.

  3. Hi Nico! It is wonderful to know you're feeling so at home! Now that you've seen Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, it might be a good time to connect with our friend Richard, the Egyptologist who will be leading a major dig. There is a standing offer to give you an inside look at the project. Let me know if you'd like to pursue that.

    Love, Dad

  4. Thanks a lot Dad!

    Wow, that sounds fantastic! We'll talk about that the next time we get in touch.

    I love you!
    Nico :)