I got accepted to EMIS pretty early on, and my reaction was fairly typical.
I screamed, jumped around, hugged everyone in my immediate field of vision, screamed some more.
Not necessarily in that order.
I am a person who has always valued academia very highly (and I say this while begging you not to view me as a mightier-than-thou snob), and being on the receiving end of this opportunity is probably the highlight of my life.
I love the country I was born in, but it unfortunately doesn’t offer much for people like me. People who look for things untasted, for places unseen, for experiences yet unlived. For people curious enough to step out of their comfort zone. For people who never settle for something ordinary. For people who seek the extraordinary.
I still seek that capital E Extraordinary. I have wanted it with so much ferocity that it eventually brought me to EMIS. Being the kind of driven, ambitious person I am, I always knew I would end up somewhere.
But now that I am there, I realize Somewhere is more complicated than it sounds. I figured Somewhere was simply reaching stability after wandering around in transience. In reality, somewhere is a multitude of elements converging at once, and honestly, freaking the hell out of me.
I am a worrier. I am the kind of person who thinks about all possible scenarios, at all times. I am the kind of person who contemplates being run over while crossing a street I’ve been crossing my entire life, I basically expect everything to crumble at any given moment. I take the expression ‘You’re only seventeen once’ way, way too seriously.
Now that July is at its end, the freak out is magnifying. I think about being alone, I think about having to remember to do my laundry, I think about never having enough time, I think about the possibility of failing classes, I think about being friendless, I think about missing something that I will regret for the rest of my life, and finally, I think about how difficult I make things for myself.
Fortunately, I don’t need to tell myself much to snap out of it.
In my country, they say, ‘You can get to Istanbul simply by asking.’, and I’m not saying it’s not going to take every ounce of my devotion and compassion to make it, but I am so, so confident in the community I’m going to be living in, I am sure it will be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
I have so often felt voiceless while speaking; it gives me an immense rush of euphoria, the idea that I will be part of a place that doesn’t simply pretend to listen, it actually does. I have sought diversity for so long, so much that I sometimes tried to force it into the fabric of my life (it didn’t work out). Now I will be at a place filled with faces I will love learning to discern, faces I will remember as probably the best part of my new life. And I know it’s cynical to call it a ‘new’ life; I know it will be the same existence, but I don’t know why I feel it will be amplified.
I think about becoming part of a new culture, my inevitable shock, my eventual fascination with it as I come to understand it closely, intimately, the way I’ve always wanted to understand something, thoroughly and deeply enough to make it a part of myself.
I think about living in the center of a conflict that has raged on for decades, through the ages; I think about getting to know details I could have never hoped to know, I think about all of those details adding to my perception of humanity, making me realize the evanescent nature of it, its amorphous shape that takes on different guises, always changing, yet always retaining a quality that always escapes me, a quality I hope to come to know, or perhaps recognize.
And lastly, I think about myself after it’s all over.
I think about my heartbreak. I think about the nostalgia I will undoubtedly feel. I think about everything that I will have to leave behind, everything that has left an imprint on me, but that won’t belong with me. Everyone who shared my laughter, my disappointment, my homesickness, my understanding, my unwavering support, my loneliness, my joy, my love; they will all move on to the next step in their lives, as will I.
I know it’s insane to expect all of these wonderful, horrible things to happen to me, I know expectations are what really killed the cat, I know that I will suffer way too much should this experience prove less than stupefying, but then again, I have a feeling.
I guess I’m not cynical enough to second-guess myself often enough to drive that feeling away. Or, maybe, I hope, the feeling can’t be driven away. It remains, as all good omens do, in the horizon, never really fading.
– Martina Hysi