August 25, 6:00 am.
I woke up early in the morning, and rummaged through my things, praying I wouldn't wind up forgetting anything crucial. I changed, brushed my teeth, snuggled my cats, and waited for the sound of the door chime to signal to me that my dad had come home. Fast forward a few hours and I was saying goodbye to my parents as I walked through security and away from my home.
A few more and I was at Dulles international airport with the other girls and our group leader, waiting for our flight to Frankfurt. As far as flights go, this one wasn't too bad. 8 hours long, there was food and movies, and it was a fancy new 747 with *gasp* two levels. At the very least, it was a bit of a novelty.
By our arrival in Germany the six of us were exhausted, hungry, and über dehydrated. So we stopped at a nap terminal (crazy, right? They have little cots and it's super quiet) before loading up onto our next flight, this one to Oman.
Fighting growing weariness and the general urge to pass out atop my tray table (Linden...), I stayed awake through the flight to Abu Dhabi and all the way to Muscat. Disembarking the plane felt like stepping into a bath (literally, it's crazy humid) of hot air. Reminder: the sun had already gone down. This was just residual heat.
We received our visas and went to pass into the country, but where everyone else went in easily I was left standing with my passport as confusion unfolded. It turned out my visa had been prepared using my old passport, but after the officials worked this out it was simple to get in and collect my bags.
In the following few days, we had AMIDEAST orientations, a city tour, and I spent some time getting to know and integrating with my incredible host family.
My school starts on Wednesday, so until then I'm hanging out at home with my host family and trying to de-jetlag in preparation for the year ahead.
I still have trouble believing I am actually here, and sometimes I need to pinch myself to make sure this is not a dream. But it is not.
This fabulous, hot, beautiful, friendly, amazing country is not a dream, my wonderful host family is not a dream, and I feel incredibly blessed to be able to spend a full 10 months exploring and growing to better understand Oman.
🎶Remember The Name (feat. Styles of Beyond) - Fort Minor🎶
With just one week left to go until my departure from my home country, I am still adjusting to the concept of leaving. My suitcases are still strewn across my room, and I have lots of loose ends still to be tied up. But what I have realized most of all in the last few days is how ready I am for this.
I am ready for a fresh start. In the past week I have seen the end of friendships and the beginnings of new ones, I have seen myself speak almost knowledgeably about the path I have chosen to complete strangers, I have seen the sun set on an island and rise from my home. I recently saw a photo on Facebook that reads "You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one". So I'm closing the book on what I have mentally begun to refer to as my past life.
In my new life, many things will stay the same, but many things will change - setting and language are just some among the hundreds. This year ahead is an opportunity for self-discovery. It is a chance for me to explore, to test the very core of my being for moral fibre, to plant roots in many places as they will plant their roots in me. I am excited to leave yet afraid of the unknowns that lie ahead, but I have come to accept that they, along with every other fear I hold, are okay.
This is my last blog post before I leave. Feel free to comment or write to me if you have any questions or things you would like me to address in upcoming posts. I will be live-tweeting (sort of, not really) my travels next week, so if you would like to follow those the link is at the top.
Thank you for joining with me and sharing my fears and hopes thus far, and I am beyond thrilled to be able to transport you to the amazing country that is Oman.
🎶I Lived - OneRepublic🎶
This weekend my parents and I took a two hour plane flight to Chicago, with the main goals being the touring of two Universities : Northwestern and UChicago, both of which my father had attended. It required waking up before the sun and packing the night before, but was well worth it to finally take a trip to the Windy City. Just hours after disembarking the plane saw us wandering the gorgeous campus of Northwestern University, touring the sights on the way to the admissions office where we were scheduled for an information session, followed by a student guided tour.
That evening we spent dinner with relatives who live in Chicago, and the next day we split up to explore the city - my father and I went to the Museum of Science and Industry, and my mother visited the Art Institute and Millennium Park. I have to say, the Museum is amazing. Among other things, we did the major attractions : a tour of U-505, which is housed in its entirety in its very own exhibit, and a tour of a coal mine which has been cleverly recreated inside the museum.
On Sunday, we spent the day again with family, joining them for brunch and then staying to talk for hours. Immediately afterwards we headed to central Chicago to take a river cruise. It was incredible to see the diverse architecture which crowds the skyline, and also interesting to learn the history of city ordinances that shaped the buildings.
That night we made a return to the pizza place we had been to the night before, Gino's East. My father remembered it from his days of studying and working in Chicago, and was pleasantly surprised to find it still there and open for dinner.
Monday morning we were up bright and early to tour UChicago, the second of my father's alma maters. I was again impressed with the campus, as well as the incredible academics and students.
Overall, I had an incredible trip. I'm thrilled I went and hoping to go back soon. It's my second to last adventure before I leave the country - and I leave for the next one tomorrow morning.
🎶Believer - American Authors🎶
I've had a hectic week. The past Monday marked the last day of rowing I will have for a year, although I think the whole team knows (or should know) that I will be stalking their Instagram and Facebook pages to see how it goes next year.
The packing process has (for me) finally begun in earnest, and I'm sorting through mounds of clothing with the assumption that I will actually be able to weed anything out... I'll be taking two checked bags and a carry-on, and I intend to be mostly packed about a week before my departure from home so that I am able to make last minute arrangements/adjustments.
I spent Tuesday-Thursday at a Dale Carnegie teen program in Shelton, CT, which turned out to be surprisingly helpful and informative... I actually gained a lot from the experience. Now I look forward to more events on my schedule as I try to fit a year into 21 days.
As per the request of AMIDEAST, I've been measured for my school uniform by my mother. And Amazon.com has been excellent about delivering things I need in a timely fashion - like the shoes I ordered for school, along with some adapters for chargers and plugs.
Today I am preparing to email my host family, which is incredibly exciting, and while trying to formulate my thoughts precisely it occurred to me that this family is going to see my at my best and at my worst - and that if I want to communicate before I leave I should just go for it, without panicking about word order.
Also on my mind is a long to-do list which I have been compiling for the last week or so, which grows every day. I have to constantly assure myself that I am, in fact, making progress, and that I will be done before I leave.
Sometimes it can be hard to do the things you know you have to do - I am experiencing this right now. Rather than wanting to go through my closet to pack I am drawn to my computer and its endless stash of unnecessary amusements. I think it's a sort of reflex reaction - if you are scared of something, you try to put it off. But this is inevitable. It is inevitable because I have chosen it to be so, which is something I constantly remind myself. Although I am afraid to leave my home and my family, it is a choice I made, and no matter how apprehensive I am I cannot postpone the inevitable. I am still waiting for this message to sink into my brain.
In all seriousness though.... I leave in 21 days. Three weeks. The date is edging closer like a ferry in the distance off the shore - and the plane that will take me from home is my ferry. It will take me to Oman, and I will be ready for it when it finally arrives.
** As a sidenote: I have added a "Photos" section in the bar above. If you click it it will take you to a gallery of images I hope to build as the year progresses.
🎶Don't Stop Believin' - Journey🎶
Hi! My name is Karla Cox. This blog is a compilation of notes, thoughts, and photos from my travels around the world.