I found this meme while skulking around the internet, and I love how accurate it is at describing Omani greetings.
Except it usually goes on for longer.
And this is my gift to the new exchange students who have now been picked and will be coming next September to--gasp!-- take our places. Learn it well. You will indeed need this.
Which brings me to some other thoughts. I have 54 days left until I return home. Fifty-four. It sort of rolls of the tongue in a happy-sad way. It can be a bubbly number or a slowly fizzling out one. At any rate, I have fewer days remaining than I did last time I started a countdown, last summer, for my return date. If I recall, I made a paper chain last summer. It had ninety links when I began. This picture is the remnants, right before we left. And now here I am, anticipating the return with a sense of excitement and dread. I have my plane tickets. I can tell you the exact time I will see my family again (unless, of course, the Chicago airport is its normal slow process). It is indeed a strange feeling to be here in the brink of continuing my life. I have loved the past year. I have gone from the initial dramatic excitement of taking pictures of everything I see to rock bottom to a sense of being home in my life here. My Arabic is indeed improving. I feel so much at home in my family and school. The exchange students and I have reached a kind of friendship I have never felt before, based on both need for each other's support and other typical reasons for being friends (as adolescents, that is). I cannot put into words how much my exchange student friends have become my best friends in the world because of the weird understanding we have for one another.
On the other hand, I am anticipating my return. Perhaps not so much returning to the mundane-ness of high school, but the aspect of moving on. I have learned so much this year, not just about Omani culture but about myself as well. I am eager to leap forward into the rest of my life and take more opportunities. I want to go on to college and get a job and grab life by its metaphorical horns. I'm excited for the future.
Here I am, suspended in a state of confusion. I marvel at the past year of my life. Part of me wants to continue with this fabulous adventure but another part knows that now is the time for me to continue, for others to experience all that I have. Some of me is angry that there are others coming--to take my experience, my friends, my school, my Omani exchange. The other part of me is excited for them in a way I never could have comprehended before. A year ago, I was in their shoes, researching Oman like mad. Absolutely obsessed with the fabulous and exotic life I was sure to have. My views of this place have mellowed and strengthened since then. Oman has gone from fantasy to a reality. A reality that has more meaning than I ever could have imagined. And for that, I am excited for the new students. Now, as I was, they are naive. Their view of Oman is idealized. I hope that, like I did, they will soon come to appreciate an Oman with depth. The one that I think I know. Their Oman will likely be different from mine, but I hope that they discover their own truth. I know I have.