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For many of my friends, summer break means swimming at the local pool and hanging out at our downtown movie theater. Yet for me, summer means traveling 6,000 miles to a completely different country, where I speak a completely different language and immerse myself in a completely different society. Although traveling almost always means being somewhere foreign, traveling is my way of going home. That home, away from home, is a place I feel perfectly serene.
So it is that each summer I make two 7-hour-long plane rides, a three-hour car ride, a four-hour border crossing, and another two-hour drive. Despite it all, arriving is a feeling that almost no words can describe. Home, a small and peaceful stretch of Jordan, is a place where I can see my family, where I can relax, where I can be the other me.
At the break of dawn, waking up to the crowing of a rooster as the cool breeze from the desert vanishes, I feel the day’s first deep tingling of content. Moments later, the smell of my grandmother’s fresh-brewing Turkish Coffee invades the entire house. As I get up, I am surrounded by a view that no painted landscape can match: a valley filled with farms, which are surrounded by mountains upon which several towns and even a university have been built. Soon, our entire family gathers in the living room, sipping our thick Turkish Coffee and snacking on a seemingly endless variety of sweets.
As everybody comes together, I’m faced with the decision of what I will do on that particular day. I can accompany my grandfather while he conducts business in the city, or I can go hike through the beautiful surrounding hills, or I can relax and just read a book from my family’s well-curated shelves. At this point, I realize anew how fortunate I am to be able to have this opportunity: the opportunity to travel abroad, to become fluent in a foreign language, and to connect with people from a completely different society who, nonetheless, are a part of my affectionate family.
To me, summer is reconnecting with old friends, visiting family, and stretching beyond the close at hand fun of my hometown and my hometown friends. All that can wait. Summer is when I am at home abroad, and when I am truly at peace.
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