There is something I want to talk about, and it’s something no one ever wants to talk about. Leaving. And the idea of leaving and the idea of leaving people and the place. It is incredibly isolating. The thought of going “home” is a terrifying one for many reasons.

To really face the idea that you are now a semi-displaced person; you’ve seen and lived and experienced a lot of things on your own and now you have to face the going home to the life from before… or you don’t?

I recently had to face the facts that I will be going home. Not that it wasn’t ever going to happen, but it’s not something I thought about. Obviously it was going to happen at some time, but I really am now in the depths of facing the fact that I have a little over 2 months left.

The moment I found out I was officially going home I went into full out panic mode. I went into overdrive about how I could find ways to stay and how to finance it and what to do. My mind had a million questions and my body just shook with freak-out.

I have slowly over the past week faced the reality of going home and I am working very hard to combat the sadness that overtakes the thought that “this might be the last time…” or “I may never do this again” or “I won’t have this person around” or “what will I do when I can’t do this?” all of these are really hard to face.

The truth is that I never expected the things to happen as they have or to feel the way that I do here about this place and about the people I have met.

The idea that I will no longer be surrounded by these people and this life scares the hell out of me. And the thing is that I know that when I go home I will so desperately miss it here.

And yet, part of me does want to go home and see everyone at home that I love, and eat a bagel and drink a coffee, and walk on campus in the snow going to class after getting off the bus. And be able to call someone on the phone just for a chat because they are in my My10 as I wait for the bus.  

These are all things that I want and yet I cannot fathom them at this point. I am wrapped up in my own brain in Tanzania that I am struggling with the concept of home.

I talked with my Dad about it and he said in a nice way that it’s not like you won’t be going back at some point and as much as he is right, I know that it doesn’t capture the fact that nothing will be the same.

I left Canada and came to Tanzania and I knew the I would be different after being here and that my life would change, but it truly never occurred to me that I would have to go home after building a life. I never thought about it once that I would meet people here and have relationships and then have to leave them and everything here.

How do you box that up? Do you have to box it up? A million questions run through my mind about how to stop feeling and enjoy, and what my life trajectory is meant to be.

This is something that people don’t talk about it seems. When you talk to other exchange students it seems that everyone always glorifies their year or semester abroad but people don’t talk about how hard the transition back would be or could be or is.

I think the position of the exchange student is very unique in that it is so isolating in its limitations of return. People here for work and travel are done school and are free in a different sense than the burdened student. [By burdened I mean student loans, lack of jobs, lack of experience, etc.] They are making money and making life choices. I feel so contained because I have to come home to finish credits and then graduate and then I am free?

I wish someone had told me just how hard it would be to talk myself out of being sad that I am inevitably leaving and instead happy that I have so much time left and actively not letting myself squander it. Not that being told would have changed anything; I think I just half-heartedly want to think it would have made a difference.

I am now trying to remind myself with everything I do that I need to enjoy it and soak it up and not be sad; which is really hard work when everything is just so wonderful.

I don’t know if I believe in destiny but I do hope that everything happens for a reason and that things will pan out the way that they’re supposed to pan out.