Monday, November 28, 2011

Home At Last...

You know what's a really bad idea when you're really tired?  Go out to a coffee shop (in public) under the guise of "working," order a big cup of caffine, then listen to Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger."  Trust me.  You will embarrass yourself.  In public. 

Anyway...  After the whirlwind that was the last 3 months, I am finally in one place for more than 2 days.  That's right.  The international travel portion of this year's programming has come to an end.  It ended last week with a quick trip to Montreal for an anthropology conference.  In case anyone is counting, that was my 4th time zone in less than 3 weeks.  Luckily, the conference went well.  I managed to remember enough proper English to deliver a mostly unflawed presentation and also managed to stay awake enough to spend time with some really freaking cool people and not come across as the brain dead person that I felt like.  And as tired as I was (and am now), it was definitely worth it. 

Pictures from Montreal.

 I wish I had something terribly profound to say to you all about all of the experiences that I've had over the last few months.  But, honestly, the one thing that stands out for me the most is how important other people are.  The places I've been are wonderful, but the people I've met and the relationships I've built have made the biggest difference in my life.  And being away always, always gives me an even greater appreciation for the people I love (and who love me) at home.  It's no secret that I was having a hard time with the idea of my trip ending, but the hugs on the other end of the 24 hour travel adventure helped ease me back in to home.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving (I'm a little late to the game here...), let me just say how very thankful I am for my family and close friends.  I would never, ever be the person I am without their (your!) love and support.  I am also thankful for all of the opportunities I've had over the last year and the experiences that have come out of them. 

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it) and are ready for the upcoming holiday season.  I am certainly happy that I'll be spending my holidays with my wonderful family.  Including this guy...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

From Bangladesh to Taiwan

Last Thursday night at 10:30, a van picked me up from the student apartment in Dhaka and 22 hours later, I arrived in Taiwan.  The trip was rough.  When I reached Taipei, I was running on less than 2 hours of sleep, had been through 4 airports, and had spent WAY too much time with my overstuffed luggage.  Nick met me at the train station and when he rounded the corner at Starbucks, I have never been more happy to see any one person in my life.  I was so relieved, I actually started crying!

I had just gone from a country where I was finally starting to get my bearings and feel comfortable to one where I hadn't been in 3 years.  I was just starting to get used to wearing a salwar kameez and starting to get comfortable using Bangla, then entered a country where less is often more in terms of clothing and I had forgotten nearly every word of the language.  Roslyn and I joke that in our brains, there are two boxes for language.  The boxes are titled "English" and "Other."  Well, before Bangladesh, my "Other" box was mostly filled with Chinese, with a few Spanish words thrown in.  Upon arrival in Taiwan, I discovered that, save for a few desperate hangers-on, all of the Chinese words had been pushed out to make room for the Bangla.  Shit.

So, basically, I went from this:

And this:

To this: 

And this:

Sheesh.  Talk about culture shock!  I'm just thankful I didn't go directly back to the US...  My head might have exploded.

Anyway, I've been in Taiwan for 6 days now and I leave tomorrow (Thursday) to go home to the US.  I've been spending my time visiting old friends, visiting some of my favorite places, and eating some amazingly good food.  I visited the school I used to teach at and saw some of my old students (who are now in 6th grade and SO TALL!).  I am going to have a hard time leaving tomorrow.  The last couple of weeks I have been riding an emotional rollercoaster, and there are a few more ups and downs to face in the next 36 hours.  I was so sad to leave Matlab and Bangladesh.  So sad to leave Roslyn and all of the new friends I made there.  But I was excited to come back to Taiwan and have been so happy to see all of my friends here.  Tomorrow, I will be so sad to leave, but will be really looking forward to seeing all of the people I love at home and getting some rest.  When I fly into Kansas City tomorrow night, I will have literally gone around the world!  From Kansas City to Chicago to Dubai to Dhaka to China to Taipei to Japan to Dallas to Kansas City.  Phew.

Ok.  I've got some green tea to drink.  See you all on the flip side...