It has been a while. A little over 10 months to be exact; and so much has changed. For one, I am currently writing this blog post on my dining table in Dublin. I am here on an exchange program, for one semester. A month in and I am finally starting to feel settled. It is cold and dreary and I love it. I have been told I will not feel the same in a month. We’ll see about that.
Being a world away from home and Bahrain has been an odd experience. Back in April, I was overwhelmingly excited to hear that I would be spending the first semester of my fourth year in university away. I needed to be away for a little while. IC1 was a challenging semester in every aspect of life. My friends were all suffering with life dilemmas, my family was going through difficult times, I didn’t care about the material I was studying and as a result my anxiety sky rocketed mid-way through the semester. I have never talked about my anxiety, deeming it a personal subject but this is my blog- so really, it is all mine for the taking. My bouts of anxiousness were different this time around. When usually, they would cripple me in front of whoever happened to be around; this time they left me feeling numb, in a constant state of sadness and as a result I spent an awful lot of time locked away in the comfort of my room. How I made it through the semester is by the grace of God- He gets almost all the credit because I could not get myself to care. In March I gave in and allowed myself to swallow in self-pity and as you can imagine, that did no one any good. Scraping through the semester cast a negative light over 5 months of my life when there was also SO much good. I traveled to Berlin with some of my friends and saw so much physical history come into play every day I was there that I left a different person. To see the WWII artifacts, concentration camps and memorials in person, within touch, cemented the notion that if we do not do good by others, we all collectively suffer in the end. I took part in the talent show and sang for the first time in front of a crowd of loved ones and strangers and it felt out-of-this-world-good. The feeling of performing and leaving the stage to screams and hugs from your friends is indescribable. I will forever treasure that night. I went to the beach so many times this semester, I lost count. My favorite trips consisted of sitting in the car and looking out into the night whilst my friends laughed over stories and an afternoon of dancing in the rain and chasing seagulls; moments that made my heart feel so full.
The start of the summer was a strange time. Everything I had looked forward to seeing was noticeably missing- the serenity that usually embraces my family was missing; my friends traveled for the majority of the summer to work and for once in my life, I had nothing pre-planned, so I resolved to spend my summer catching up on work, writing and studying. 3 months went by too fast and before I knew it I was crying in the airport saying goodbye to my family who were flying out to Sudan the day before I was set to come to Dublin.
Getting onto the flight to London, I was the physical embodiment of mixed emotions. I was incredibly nervous but more so excited to discover all that is in store for my friends and I. How would the environment be? Would people be kind? Will Mariam and I find a place to live? Will I keep losing my phone? It has been a month. The environment is accommodating. People are lovely. Mariam and I are not homeless and yes, I will always misplace my phone. I wanted to get away and see the world without the comfort of family or friends. I wanted to get away from everyone and everything that surrounded me and re-discover my love for medicine and my want to heal people. I wanted to be. No one told me how hard all of that would be to accomplish though. On my third week here I was hit by a massive wave of homesickness. I missed my people fiercely; the feeling was relentless. Slowly, but surely, through clubs, societies and friends here, I am starting to feel more at home though and missing home-home has subsided into a dull ache in the back of my head. I took ballet and horse-riding lessons this weekend (no one tells you how hard both of those sports are… there was no warning to how much work both require- SO. MUCH. EXERCISE. INVOLVED); I went to an Art club session and went out for dinners and laughed until my sides hurt over the ridiculousness that is my university. So I guess you can say life is looking up.
An incidence that took place right at the beginning has been a constant reminder that things are never as unbalanced as they seem. I went to the Cliffs of Moher during my first week here and after receiving the greatest news, I saw God in everything. That sounds awfully dramatic, I know. But it is true. It is fact. God was in everything I laid my eyes on that day. In the way the sun shone down on us as we waited for the bus, in the rain in the distance as we drove through the countryside (because Irish weather is as unpredictable as American politics) , in the beautiful cliffs and the steep drop into steel blue water. What was meant to be a normal day trip turned into an immensely moving spiritual journey. I don’t think God hasn’t left my side since so things can only get better from here, right?
I am not quite sure why I started writing this post other than that I needed to get all these feelings down in writing. I watched Grey’s Anatomy today and that fact is important for three reasons- 1) the entire premise of the episode was miracles. The miracle that is life. The miracle that is family. The miracle that is being able to do what you set out to do in life. 2) They played a song by Andreya Triana called ‘Heart In My Hands’ and it perfectly reflected the aim of this semester away from both of my homes. 3) The aforementioned points are why I put fingers to keyboard toady. If you are reading this blog-post then you will agree that we are so privileged to live the lives we were selected to see through. The chance to be where we currently are in the world is humbling. The right to an education is a fundamental human necessity yet it remains an inaccessible right to 60 million children; to have the liberty to attend a university and study the course of my dreams is one I hope I will never take lightly again. So many people are not given the chances we are handed every day. So take chances and do good by yourself and those who surround you. Let go of anything that no longer serves or grows you. Do more of what makes your heart happy and remember how fortunate you are. No matter the difficulties you face today, tomorrow or in the next year, I hope you know that unless it’s death, you can overcome it (cause yanno, the latter would be difficult to overcome if you ask me).
Life is so good if we remember in our times of darkness that there is always a way out- you just have to look for it. You have to work hard for it.
Verily with every hardship, comes ease
Know that greater people have also suffered. That lesser people have made it. That you will make it because we have so much to offer to this Earth of ours. And whilst you are stumbling your way through, remember to pick up anyone temporarily crippled on your path. It is through helping others, that our true reason for living shines through. On the other hand, do not be someones anchor and watch yourself drown. Like so many things, it all comes down to balance and I trust that we’ll get there in the end. Trial and error never go amiss at times like this so just try. Trust the journey and do not give up. The moment before you quit, I’ve been told, is usually the moment right before a miracle happens.
I hope we all make it.
*If you made it this far, well done! Now refer back to the picture at the beginning. We can do it.