University of Haifa International School Student Blog
It’s interesting how normal it’s becoming to be away from my family. People have to ask how I live this far away, sometimes adding that it’s something they could never dream of doing. I find it hard to put myself in their shoes because I’m the person living away from home, but I obviously understand why it’s a question that needs to be taken into consideration. However, living as a student abroad, I do not feel out of my element because it’s something I’ve always had an interest in doing. This relates to my first blog post when I mentioned that I don’t have much room for nostalgia. The unfolding of today’s events helped me better understand why.
It was my father’s birthday today and for the fourth year in a row I have not been home to celebrate it with him. This year is different because, as opposed to living in San Francisco, I have NO option of showing up for the occasion. And it hits that I’m really, really far from home. I posted a happy birthday photo with him to show that he is on my mind even while I’m on the other side of the world. This is my way of expressing my missing him and my family. It can’t be expressed in conversations when natives ask, “How can you live being away from home for so long?” I can never answer this clearly because if I did, I’d sound super sarcastic: “I just do.” It’s seen rather than understood. Making a public display of dedication and love to my family back home is how I express my longing for them. It must creep in at times. My love for them is clearly read even though I don’t often show it. It’s relieving to know that it is there at all because I can get caught up in the world around me rather than my world back home. Reminding myself how far that is helps put things into perspective. I feel that everyone saw through the post as a yearning for home without knowing the other side of the story. How did I celebrate my father’s birthday?
Instead of celebrating with family in southern California at an authentic Mexican restaurant, I was invited to celebrate another friends’ birthday. I ended up taking a grip of very sassy photos with people I’d never met before tonight. These girls had attitude and I loved it. Her name is Mai: an Arab Israeli who is planning on celebrating her birthday with family this weekend. I was surrounded by bubbly Muslim girls who made me feel so welcomed and part of the group even though I wasn’t from their same culture and background. I was hesitant at first because I have this idea that I’m so different from the people around me but in reality we can relate on so many levels. We were talking like normal friends: languages, travel, and religion. It was so beautiful to me. I could have been home at an authentic restaurant sharing the same laughs with the familiar faces of my loved ones but because of who I am and what I strive to become as a student traveler, I’ve been pointed in this direction. Instead of enjoying time with family I’m enjoying a view of Haifa with complete strangers that I find to be on the same page as me. I can’t help that I am okay with being away from home because it doesn’t feel that I’m away from home at all: I’m exactly where I should be.
Also, I got lost hiking in Mount Carmel this weekend. That was interesting.