June was full of emotional and spiritual struggles. It was a month I would have not have chosen to experience, but one that I was glad I had experienced when it was done. I spent the first week in Spain and came back in the thick of Ramadan. The highlight of my month was June 28, when my little nephew made his appearance.
July was survival. Survival of summer heat. Survival of loneliness. Survival of language study. Survival of a life I wasn’t sure I wanted to be living any more. Ramadan finally ended, but the summer sun continued to scorch our city of concrete, tile, and asphalt. Together, we survived the longest hot stretch in 30 years. With temperatures that nearly melted thermometers, it was a relief to have the sun go down at night. “There is this sense of camaraderie that wouldn’t be there if the days were not so miserably hot. It’s like a big sigh of relief and the general unspoken sentiment is ‘Whew! We made it through another day together.'”
August was a return to sanity as the city finally began to cool off. A lady from Cote d’Ivoire came to live with my roommate and me for the month. I spent a lot of time with friends, new ones and old ones. While this was fun, another part of the month was learning how to set boundaries in a culture so unlike my own. Last of all, August included a visa trip to Spain during my school break.
September seemed to warm back up as the biggest Muslim holiday approached: Eid Kbir. As I was overloaded with experiences, I began to sense some of the deeper meanings behind the cultural and religious traditions. Another big part of the month was welcoming a new family and their nanny joining me in language study.
October was a month of new experiences. I was able to tour several cities, meet new friends, and experience a wedding. When I hit a lull in language learning, I launched into a one-on-one class which provided a lot of practice in a controlled setting. Despite the richness of the month, the new experiences were exhausting; I felt like I was hanging on for dear life!