Well, I don’t necessarily have a story to tell, or a specific encounter to write about. I am here to talk about time. Ha! TIME—Term in the Middle East! No, no—not that kind of time, although that topic will obviously be a part of this post. I want to talk about the time we’re spending here—how suddenly, sometimes, the whole day has gone by, or how sometimes that one hour of class moves so incredibly slowly. Or those bus rides, the walk to school, the week, the month, these four months. Time is always on our minds.
It’s hard to be here and not think about home and St. Olaf. Fall is a time of new beginnings, and the moment everyone gets back to the Hill is a magical one. The first day of school is nerve-wracking, yet satisfying. That first meal in the Caf is overwhelming, yet delicious. We have such a unique community on the Hill and it’s hard not being there. Of course there are thirteen Oles here with me that are experiencing all of this as well. It’s comforting to know that I’ll have them when we get back to St. Olaf and that we’ll be forever bonded by this trip. That was mushy and sappy, I am aware. But it’s true. It is, however, hard to share experiences here with thirteen others, when, back at school, those Oles are sharing similar experiences with hundreds.
Anyways, back to the point I was trying to make. Time is a funny thing. I find that sometimes I count down the minutes, the hours, the days, until something finally happens. Then when it happens I think to myself, “Wait, that was it? It’s over? All that build up and now it’s suddenly done?” Thinking about time while on TIME is something that I think directly mirrors what I just explained. I took a gap year in Germany right after high school, and spent much of my time counting down the days until this or that happened—until my family came, until a friend came to visit, until I went home. That’s not to say I didn’t have a great year, it is normal and healthy to have things to look forward to. One of my biggest regrets about that year, however, is that I wish I had been more present. When I got back into the US I thought, “That year is already over? Where did it go and why did I ever count down those precious days?”
We all have families, friends, significant others, and even family pets that are back at home. We miss them, obviously. We’re all well aware that we missed Brother Ali’s concert at St. Olaf yesterday. We’re all well aware that we’ll miss Thanksgiving, which is personally my favorite holiday. We’re well aware that we won’t be there for the first snowfall. We’re well aware that we are giving up certain things to have this incredible experience. Sometimes, though, it is hard to see how incredible this experience is, and it’s only natural to sit and think, “How many more days?” I do hope, however—for myself and for everyone else on this trip—that we also try to stay well aware of how fleeting time is. It may drag on and be unbearable at times. But in the blink of an eye, we’ll be landing back in New York City thinking, “It’s already over?” It’s easy to fall back into those tendencies and idly let time go by, counting down every minute. But soon—and probably too soon—it will be all over and at that point, we’ll be counting down the days until we have the chance for another crazy adventure.