By Emma Drzala (IV)

On the 21st of August, I started a journey that would leave a lasting impact for the rest of my life. As I crossed the threshold to enter the plane, I felt panic and reluctance coursing through my body. I found my seat and felt my eyes getting heavier. The next thing I remember was looking out the window and seeing desert stretch for miles; after a summer of anticipation and an 11 hour flight, I finally landed in Amman, Jordan.

The first days felt relaxed; my mother was there to comfort me and I knew that the rest of my family and friends were only a phone call away. After the third day, I finally walked into King’s Academy with a clear head and an excitement that had never been matched in my life.

The first week felt like I had already been there for a year, and I was convinced that I needed to catch the next flight home. I always managed to find myself alone in my room, wishing I could be in a comfortable environment with a school I knew, friends I knew, and a life I knew. 

As the days went on, however, I found myself growing into a routine and my life seemed more manageable. Though, I still longed for my own bed and my dogs running up to me as I got home. 

After the second week ended, I felt something new brewing inside me. It was the same excitement I felt when I first saw the campus and I finally started to feel as though I belonged. More kids took an interest in me and teachers were commending my bravery for leaving home and moving somewhere new—the school didn’t seem as daunting anymore.

I was reminded of why I came to the Middle East and I began to revert back to my outgoing, happy self. I had moments where I closed my eyes, and when I opened them, I was hit with the reality that I was in Jordan. My life was a dream that most people think about, but never get the opportunity to do. Even on weekend trips to the mall, I looked outside and savored every view that ran along as the bus was zooming. My friends were pointing out camels and sand dunes, and I was finally beginning to process not being in New Jersey. 

Even after a month of being here, I still think about my home and what would be happening if I were in the comforts of Pingry. Though, whenever I find myself drawing closer to that thought, I am always reminded of the golden opportunity I have been given and am reassured that I made the best decision by coming here. The transition was difficult, but already the trips to the Dead Sea, Petra, and Wadi Rum have made all my sacrifices in coming here worth it.