As a fresh international student myself, I would like to share with you the pains and pleasures of moving away from home and onto unexplored territory.
Skipping the story of the stress-induced agony of applying and waiting for your student visa, and moving on to the day you book your flight and realise you have less than a week until you are out of the country you have been calling home for the entirety of your life.
Time to pack:
During your last few days in the country, your mum begins pulling her expected panic tantrums and writing her never-ending list of what she likes to call “essentials”. Her idea of essentials may include but is certainly not limited to: miniature towels, cans of Yalanji, Humus, and tuna, Pita Bread, Kanafeh and last but certainly not least: Jameed for the Mansaf you will never cook.
Moment of truth at the departures terminal:
An abundance of emotions hits you at this moment, one of which is deep confusion. Not quite sure whether you and your family are at the airport to say farewell or at a funeral home. Tears are streaming down the cheeks and everyone is weeping. You say your goodbyes and make your way through passport control, the duty free, and finally the doors of the airplane.
Once you are settled in your seat and you breathe a sigh of relief, you feel your fragile heart breaking into a million little pieces. Leaving everything and everyone you love behind and moving on to the next chapter of your life. Stepping into the unknown. You get the opportunity to experience the bittersweet feeling of leaving the one and only place you could ever call home and moving to a different territory to be granted your brand new beginning and hopefully make a fresh start.
A few hours later, leaving the Arrivals Terminal:
You get into the airport shuttle and watch as the streetlights move along the sides of the car windows. Your heart races as you approach the place you will be staying at for the rest of this unpredictable year. The accommodation manager checks you in and you start examining the tiny room with the tiny bathroom and the inconveniently situated toilet. You close the doors and wonder what the hell were you thinking when you left your home to come live in a petite en-suite room with a shared kitchen in a whole other continent where you know absolutely nothing and no other soul but the one you have inside of you.
The transition from a spacious house to a hole in the wall:
You accept your situation because the deed has been done and there is no going back now, so you decide to check the kitchen and the common room. You take a look around the kitchen and wonder how in the love of God are four people going to fit their food in that lame excuse of a refrigerator that is as tall as a 4 year-old kid. Disregarding the tiny fridge, you move around looking at the cupboards and drawers labelled with different colours of sticky notes, each has a different name written on it to refer to the flatmate that claimed which cupboard. You get your pink heart-shaped sticky notes, write your name on them, and stick a few around the kitchen. Now you have a couple of cupboards and a drawer to keep the silverware, dishes, and cookers you still haven’t bought. Just before you leave the kitchen you take a step back and pause at the sticky notes with foreign names and room numbers written over them and realize that this is going to be your only home for the next 9 months.