Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Re-entry to Life in America

It has been a long time since I posted anything on this blog. (duh) But, I've have a lot of thinking and processing to do (and by no means am I finished with that) and now that school has started up again -- a lot of homework. (Professor Elgersma would cringe at that's way too long. But, I have a tendency to write absurdly long sentences.)

Coming back to America has been hard in so many ways. I miss the burger wa beyd wa gibna (basically a cheeseburger with an egg -- strange, I know, but really, really good), the schawerma (a chicken (or beef)/yogurt mixure on either a tortilla or a bun), and basically any and all things that Kareema (the MESP cook) made for us on a daily basis. I've made my first attempt at kosheri (a high carb food that I loved in Egypt), and although it turned out ok, it really wasn't much like the way Kareema made it -- except for the fried onions. Mm Mm, good. :)

"Sticker shock" has also affected me much more than I had expected. I still find myself walking through the aisles of Wal-Mart or Fareway thinking, "They want me to pay this much for that!!! That's ridiculous." Then I have to realize that I am no longer in the Middle East and can't expect to buy things as cheaply here as I did there.

I wish I had bought more scarves. Yes, I said it. While on MESP, I was often accused of suffering from a severe scarf addiction. I was always looking at and buying scarves. Now that I've given some of them away, I don't have as many as I did before. There are colors, patterns, etc galore that I wish I had...but I don't. It's probably all for the best anyway...

I miss the landscape and the heat (which isn't as existent now as it was when I arrived, but it's still warmer in Egypt than it is in Iowa). I miss seeing all the people in the street selling vegetables, fruits, and bread. The Bread Lady -- she was wonderful and welcoming to all the girls. Always telling us, "Ana bahebik" (I love you) and giving us hugs...or waving to us as we walked to class.

I miss speaking Arabic. I said "Happy Birthday" to someone today in Arabic and the words sounded strange coming out of my mouth -- and I couldn't form them nearly as well as I could a few months ago. It's slipping slowly, and I don't like it.

I miss the deep questions -- theological, philosophical, etc -- that are asked everyday, and the constant struggle I had with deep issues. Right now, I've kind of put the big issues on the back burner to keep from going crazy while I try to get through all my homework. But those questions are there, still nagging at me from the back of my mind. Some MESPers have gone back to their school outwardly changed, but I feel like most of my changes are inward or I haven't dealt with the issues I need to -- sadly, from the way I look at how I'm living, I haven't seen change. But, I'm working on it.

Most of all, I miss the people. Both MESPers and Egyptians. I don't even know if I have the words to explain what I miss about them. Most of the time, it just seems like there is a hole. As if someone/something is always missing. I thought having a couple MESPers with me would help -- and it has -- but I don't see them very regularly at all... I guess I just miss the sense of community I had...

I don't want to sound like America is all bad and that I wish I hadn't come back. In some ways, it's been good to be back at Dordt and meeting new people. I'm living with a bunch of people I've never lived with before -- even one person I'd never met! Most of the people in my classes are unfamiliar or I don't know them very well. It's been a good and exciting adventure so far, but my heart longs for Egypt and MESP right now -- and I can't settle it.

** I don't know how pertinent this is to my questions and ponderings about MESP, but I often hear these lines from "You've Got Mail" running through my head: "Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void."