Saying goodbye is never easy. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many places and I’ve never really been ready to leave any of them. Although I’m excited to see my family and friends back home, I’m not yet ready to leave Tunisia. I feel so comfortable here. If only I could stay and continue to practice my Arabic while visiting all of the places we said we could visit, but never had time.
There are many things I will miss from Tunisia. Here is a list of the top five:
1) My host family. I hope everyone is able to experience the hospitality of a Muslim family as I have. My host family treated me as one of their own and showered me with so much kindness. I couldn’t stop myself from crying when we said goodbye. Although our communication was limited, they were an integral part of my time in Tunisia and were the first people to introduce me to the country.
2) The sunshine. Going to school in Michigan was certainly a shock for me. I never knew so much snow was possible! I’ve never really enjoyed the cold very much so I was glad to be able to escape a few months of Michigan winter and trade it for Tunisian winter – 65 and sunny!
3) The sea. I love the sea. As a child I spent my summers at the Jersey Shore and being near the sea always reminds me of those carefree summer days. Living so close to the beach and being surrounded by beautiful views of the Mediterranean is certainly something I will miss.
4) Fresh warn croissant for 25 cents. There is a bakery about a two minute walk from the SIT Study Center. Every morning they make croissants and pain au chocolate. You can’t buy croissants like these in the states. They are warm and flaky and so very cheap. The owner of the store came to recognize us after a while and I will also miss his kind smile and patience while we stumbled through Tunsi, trying to order what we wanted.
5) My fellow SIT students. Including myself there were eight SIT students. At first I was very nervous to have such a small group, but it turned out to be a blessing. We all became very close and I made some friendships that I know will last for years to come. Hopefully we can all meet up in the states someday.
Despite all of the good times I’ve had in Tunisia, there are a few things I won’t mind leaving behind:
- The driving. Tunisians are crazy drivers. Crossing the street is quite an accomplishment and never ceased to give me anxiety! I am happy I don’t have to deal with that anymore.
- Meat. Being a vegetarian in Tunisia was not easy. Granted, it is sometimes not easy in the states either, but there is a large emphasis on meat in Tunisian cuisine. Most people did not understand when I told them I willingly don’t eat meat.
- Lack of heat. Although Tunisia does not get very cold, houses are not very well insulated and often lack central heating, which can make being inside feel pretty darn cold!
- Christmas does not feel like Christmas is around the corner. I have not heard any Christmas music or seen any Christmas decorations. I am excited to be back home for the holidays and the share all of my experiences with my family members.
For those of you who are considering studying abroad – do it! It is such an invaluable experience. The more I travel, the more I realize how little I really know about the world. While saying good-bye to all the wonderful people I met was hard, it is comforting to know I can call up a friends almost anywhere I go and I will have a warm and welcoming place to stay.