Arthur’s Seat

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Before studying abroad, I had never left the country, never even been further west than Minneapolis. I spent all summer saving up for weekend trips, including one to Edinburgh, Scotland.

On our second day in Edinburgh, my group and I hiked to Arthur’s Seat. Or maybe up might be a more appropriate preposition, since Arthur’s Seat is the highest point in the city. We’re talking reeeeeally tall here. At first, it wasn’t so bad. The scenery was breathtaking, and I was used to walking up hills in Exeter. But then the rolling hills became more mountainous, and I started to fall behind. There were steep clay faces and craggy rocks, and the path was becoming increasingly indistinct. Keep in mind that it was windy and pouring rain, so everything was slippery.

Car in Edinburgh Read the rest of this entry

Reaching a Level of Uncomfortable

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When ever I talked to someone about study abroad the always mentioned reaching a level of uncomfortable that you somehow become comfortable with.
Going abroad to China this summer, I learned a great deal about who I was and reached a level of content with my past mistakes. Istanbul was an adventure into the future, self-reliance and learning where I could see myself.

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Wandering towards Home

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During my first month in Exeter, I decided to continue consuming British pop culture during my free time under the title of ‘cultural immersion’. There was one book in particular that had been on my list for some time: The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. The acclaimed children’s novel, not the blockbuster-budget cinematic trainwreck. Anyways, I’ve always been fascinated by linguistics, fantasy, and folklore, so I knew I’d enjoy it. But I never expected to identify with it. And yet, this fantastical story about a homebody hobbit named Bilbo who is forced into a harrowing quest to steal a dragon’s treasure is all about identity. And many times while reading it, I’ve found myself thinking about how my own adventure have changed how I see myself. Read the rest of this entry

Studying in Jerusalem

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Studying in Jerusalem has changed me in ways that I could have never imagined. While this experience has solidified my identity it has both softened and strengthened my values and thoughts on many issues and ideas.

I have a little bit of a unique perspective because while I am American, I am a Palestinian, Muslim girl living in Jerusalem. I relate to the religious ideas and I understand the cultural values here, yet three months later, I find myself questioning ideas I once firmly believed and strengthening my values I have always have. Read the rest of this entry

*USA Flag Emoji*

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Being an American shouldn’t be that weird in the UK, right? That is, unless you’re one of the few Americans that your friends know at Sussex and rely on you to explain everything that happens with America to them.

This week, I was asked to reflect on how my community has supported my identity and how my identity has changed. In a previous post, I wrote a little bit about how my identity in Europe is different from when I’m in America. This time around, I’ll write a bit about how it’s changed while I’ve been here. Read the rest of this entry

Communities Support You

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Going abroad was always a daunting task for me. I never saw myself as the type. I wasn’t adventitious enough or could see myself leaving the support system I had worked so hard to create at GW. There were a variety of exercises, ones I went through daily sophomore year in an attempt to stop myself from flying across the world. However, as I sit here in Turkey, enjoying the last bits of good weather at the beach with a group of friends from all walks of life, and having gone parasailing just this morning, I realize how lucky I am to have the people here with me.

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Identity

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I have a very complex identity, being a Palestinian/Greek Muslim girl. I was always admired for my decision to convert to Islam and my non-Muslim friends always asked about my religion and attended religious events with me to learn more. My roommate even prayed with me once to show solidarity and to further understand my religion. The Islamic community back in America is generally supportive because they are aware of the challenges of being Muslim and America: Sticking to your beliefs but integrating into American society. This is something unique to American Muslims that Muslims in Arab countries judge and do not understand. Living in Jerusalem exposed me to the stereotypes I already knew about but it was nonetheless challenging.
The other part of my identity, a big one, is being Palestinian. I am very passionate about my beliefs and everyone around me is aware of that. I would often receive messages asking “What do you think of this article?” or “Your activism is admirable and I greatly respect you.” My work wasn’t hateful towards Israel and I lived and became close friends with a girl who shared opposite views than me, so traveling to Jerusalem didn’t suddenly push me to think “All Israelis are human.” Yet, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to step into a space where I began to see the situation differently because I lived it. Read the rest of this entry