Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One roller coaster of a ride

    I expected to have conflicting emotions leading up to this trip. After all, I left almost everyone and everything I knew back in the US for 5 months. Not only that, but my 5 months would be spent in a new culture, with a new language, and few familiar faces. What I didn't expect was the pattern that emerged regarding my feelings both the week leading up to my departure and during the few nights I have spent in Africa. During the days leading up to my departure, I spent every possible second with those I love, storing up enough memories to last me 5 months. I ran errands, did last minute shopping and became more and more excited about my upcoming journey. I woke up early, went to bed late, and had next to no free time. I had an amazing graduation party where I got to see many of those adults who have played important roles in my life, and a great going away party to see all of my friends before I left and they headed off to college near summer's end. I have never felt as much love as I did in that one week.
    At night though, I seemed to undergo a complete change in emotions. While I never once wished I was not taking this opportunity, my excitement was overshadowed by not so pleasant emotions. I lay in bed one night, crying to my mom. Everything was happening so fast. I just wanted more time at home. I was scared. I wasn't ready to grow up quite yet.  What if I hated it? What if something bad happened at home, and I couldn't be there? The realization that, after this week, I would never truly live at Home again, was terrifying. Come the next morning, I would be swept up in a whirlwind of excitement and positive emotions once again.
    As soon as I stepped off the plane at the Kilimanjaro Airport I immediately remembered why I had fallen in love with Tanzania. Everyone is kind, willing to lend a hand, and happy. On the drive to MS-TCDC I got to see the beautiful landscape that would be the backdrop for the next 5 months. I didn't know a single person at TCDC, yet my first lunch that afternoon was filled with laughter, interesting conversation and, of course, ugali. That first night was a different story. As I lay in bed I couldn't stop the tears. What in the world was I thinking? Why did I think I could do this? Had I really overestimated myself so much? I was sure that I had made a huge mistake, and that the next 5 months would be filled with homesickness and sadness. All I really wanted at that moment was to be back in my bed at home. I won't lie; I cried myself to sleep the first night I was here. Nothing was familiar. The smells, the sounds outside my room, the language I heard all around me... Everything was new, and I just wanted comfort.

    The following morning I dragged myself out of bed and to breakfast, the negative outlook from the night before still with me. By the end of breakfast I had made 5 new friends, all with their own fascinating and compelling story that had placed them in Tanzania and in my Swahili course. While it is only the 2nd night after my tear filled one, I haven't shed another tear. I know that I will before I go home. I will probably shed quite a few. I also know that however rough a night I may have, the following day will more likely than not make up for it by far. The amount of support I have pouring in from the states will continue to boost me up. The encouraging words of both strangers and friends alike will remind me why I am here. The next 5 months will test me in ways I have yet to imagine, but I am determined that I will pass each one of those tests.

No comments:

Post a Comment