Since August, home meant Senegal. It was not where my family or friends lived, it was not where I grew up, but I quickly had to learn to call it home. My room had to become my sanctuary, the office had to become my place of productivity, and the people there had to grow into my new family and friends.
But now, because of unforeseen circumstances, the home that I just became acquainted with was taken from me. So the word “home” confuses me, I don’t know whether to embrace it here in Cincinnati or long for it in Senegal. Once again, I have to familiarize myself with another home, one that felt so familiar just last year. And as I sit at home and reflect on the place I recently called home, there is an aspect of my experience that I have felt more growth in than any other: the skill of living abroad.
I always thought that living abroad meant making new friends and learning your way around town, but there is so much more to it than that. Living abroad means learning to be comfortable operating in a different language. It means learning to embrace a new culture while still staying true to your own. It means communicating and working alongside people who are entirely different from you. It means building yourself a new concept of home. Living abroad is a skill, a muscle you have to work, an idea to be regularly practiced.
Even though I am no longer in Senegal, I will continue to develop this skill. Once you start, there’s no stopping. This transition in my life might be over but I am excited to grow and learn in the future. Senegal, I will see you soon inshallah