Backwards, Forwards, Back on my Feet


It has been quite some time since I posted last. Recently, I’ve been busy managing many aspects of my personal life, while trying to maintain some normality in the midst of so much change while abroad. In the first 2 and 1/2 months, I have made a few great strides. There are those days I feel on top of the world ready to conquer anything that comes my way, and yet still others where nothing around makes any sense, and I just can’t seem to keep pace. My emotions can run high, and it easy to perseverate and stew amongst frustrations. So alas, I must revert back to the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, everyday I’m here, life does get easier; but, though I have experienced some incredible things, there have been equal challenges in tandem.

It is only as of recently that I have begun to truly feel the weight of full cultural immersion. I usually try to keep this blog mostly positive, to provide a place to consolidate my many emotions, sensory instincts, and observations with a little background history for good measure. But, like your average teenager, I am not immune to my share of daily (or on the better weeks bi-weekly) struggles, and living alone in a foreign country can definitely perpetuate them. Well, I have had an  interesting 2 1/2  months indeed, and honestly at this point, I have realized just how fleeting the idea of  control and a “perfect exchange” is. Ultimately, I am trying to acknowledge this daily challenge, but it is no longer about denying it, and more in how I respond.

Less than a week ago, I was relocated to a new family.  This decision was made due to a variety of reasons, most of which involved uncontrollable factors involving transportation. I no longer live with another exchange student.  Long term, I hope to look back positively at this circumstance. Though transitions are always difficult, I am very happy at my new home, so ultimately I think it was for the best. Whenever something falls through, it is definitely a little crushing, especially after investing your heart and soul in building personal relationships. I will say, though, I think it is important to work through challenges and problem solve. 

I have had the opportunity to live with two very different and equally wonderful families. Just like they say here, everything happens for a reason. My new family has welcomed me into their home with open arms. I live in a large sprawling residential area to the south of Matrah. It is quite peaceful with the exception of the intermittent drilling from the construction lot next door. I have been told they are building a mosque so I suppose perhaps they are clearing the way for a parking lot. The quiet is also interrupted in a much nicer way with the sounds of my small siblings laughing.  I have not lived here long, but I am already feeling very comfortable.

Even if life isn’t perfect, it is beginning to make sense. It takes quite a bit of explanation when trying to rationalize that 20% on a basic trig test when I already have a full year of high school geometry under my belt. Simple things become so much harder, and though there is always the added emotional stress, perhaps the biggest challenge of all is relearning the art of learning itself.  Not only am I busy analyzing every small bit of Arabic heard from the back of the class, but for the first time, I am outside the cushiony bubble I made for myself in the US. To put it bluntly, learning disabilities are not a thing here. If you don’t do well or meet challenges, it is either you are incompetent in going to school or extremely indolent. People do not look at the less transparent aspects of learning differences or consider the value of accommodation plans.  Who is smartest in the classical sense of the word is what matters, and here in Oman that means an engineering prodigy.  Things are really starting to look up though. I have tried not to underestimate the importance friends make in maximizing my learning environment. Though it is not always the case, for me, once I began finding friends, I felt far more comfortable in the classroom.

It is impossible to know what challenges will lie ahead my way. Luckily, these are not a measure of  success. And let me tell you, some of my best successes so far have been recovering from my setbacks. But to reassure you all, things are truly looking up. November is going to be my month. So go seize the day in whatever time zone you’re in, and I promise to write about more interesting things soon.


2 responses to “Backwards, Forwards, Back on my Feet

  1. Hi Talya,
    I’m Davan’s mom, Nicholina, and I wanted to let you know that this sort of post is pretty much as interesting at it gets in my opinion. I think the realities of exchange are what it’s all about. Thanks for sharing your struggles, as well as the interesting tidbits of culture you notice along the way.

    I’m sorry that school has been a challenge for you. It’s my opinion, helpful or not, that school performance is about the least important thing in a year like this. Immersion into the culture, including being present with your host family, making friends, and showing up to school ready and willing to take it all in – those are the important parts and provide the bulk of your “education” for the year.

    Sorry to get all mom-ish on you with the advice there, but it’s kind of, you know, my job, being a mom and all. Sometimes I can’t help but spread the love.

    I’m glad you’re feeling welcomed by your new host family and I hope they become your solid base for the adventures still ahead.

  2. Hi Talya, What a wonderful post. You are so right on about the challenges and so honest. You have a lot of courage and a great attitude. I totally agree with Nicholina who said it so well. Thank you Nicholina for sharing your mom love with all the kids!

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