Life on Exchange

Pardon me for the vague title, but life abroad can be so many things, simultaneously! It makes your mind spin.

This past weekend, my host family and I went to Dubai. It was fun, and full of shopping (as per usual).

A short side note: The first time I went to Dubai, I was giddy. Visions of gravity-defying skyscrapers danced through my head like sugarplums on Christmas Eve. An Arab city at the cutting edge of technology- it seemed like the coolest thing in the world. And it is. But from my experience, it is a world-renown shopping hub. It does have a rich culture, but it seems to be more behind-the-scenes. The souqs are really amazing, but the malls are the main attraction, at least among Arabs. Let me remind you, I am seeing the city from the eyes of a family that goes about once a month for shopping, not for sightseeing. I would DEFINITELY recommend seeing it for yourself!

Friday we were on our way home, and my nerves were raw. For one, I’m not the “malling” type. Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop when I’m in the mood. A weekend full of shiny white floors and food courts, however, runs me down. Then, after 4 hours with screaming children in the car, my patience-o-meter was low. We usually stop in Musana’a on the way to and from Dubai, to eat or stop for prayers or just see the family. (I think it would be rude not to.)

I thought I had left my iPod in Musana’a when we were going to Dubai, but I couldn’t find it there. It would have been catastrophic, had I lost my source of sanity. On top of that, my host grandmother made a fuss over what my host sister was wearing, and in light of  complicated, sensitive matters, it seemed unjust. It made me mad, sad and frustrated. My heart was aching with all the things I saw that I didn’t like, and I was burnt down to the wick.

It’s moments like these when you question why you are here, in this foreign place, feeling alone.

But these moments are always followed by redeeming ones. When my host mom returned, she spotted immediately that I was feeling down. We took a walk and just talked. I felt better, and I felt closer to her and the country that I live in. Exchange is often characterized by these wild swings that make you feel turned upside down and inside out. But I am always returned to a happy medium, more knowledgable about myself and this country that I am learning in.

May everyone remember to never stop learning. (myself included.)


bailey   :)


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anna Thielemann
    Jan 14, 2012 @ 21:20:06

    Happy New Year, Bailey!! Sending you lots of love from all of us. We think of you often and wonder what you’re up to. I can really feel what you were saying – remembering back to my first exchange trip and then later living in Germany on my own in the beginning. Just like life there are always ups and downs. You sound so positive though! Remember we are thinking of you and love hearing your incredible stories!!
    love from Anna, Amelie and Louisa!!


    • Bailey Palmer
      Jan 18, 2012 @ 12:14:34

      Thanks for all the kind wishes! I’m learning so much, and it is so kind of you to think of me while I’m away! I always try to stay positive, but support from home really helps when you’re feeling low. Love you guys!


  2. Marcy, Clay and EVa
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 21:17:36

    Bailey, your words are taken to heart as we have a chinese exchange student living with us for a few short weeks. You would like Feliciana so much and I’m sorry you are not here to get to know her. We showed her your blog though and we all agree that you are quite a talented writer. We look forward to your next entry. Love from the Herrons


    • Bailey Palmer
      Jan 18, 2012 @ 12:18:31

      That’s so cool! I hope she’s having a great time, and I hope you guys are too! It’s always interesting when two cultures get together to learn about the other.
      Thank you so much, I’m flattered. I hope my writing will improve further with time. :)
      Best wishes with your little taste of hosting!


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