It has been an intense year so far, and it seems like it’s only going to get busier from here. Right now I’m at Dulles International Airport waiting for my plane to take me to Vienna. So many thoughts are passing through my mind as I plan ahead for these next four months. I’m trying to figure out how I’m gonna eat, if transportation will be ok, all of these sorts of things one can’t really figure out until they get there. But the big question that’s been on my mind lately is How did I get here?

To be quite honest, I’m still not sure why I was selected to go. Why did they accept my application when I submitted it a week late and wrote the essays in an hour? My decision to apply came not even from a desire to explore new territory or anything like that. I just couldn’t imagine spending a whole year at Lawrence again.

You see, this past academic year has been really stressful and isolating. There were so many people in my life I had learned were extremely toxic and I had to cut-off friendships from some of the people I was most attached to at Lawrence. In other words, when you start fighting your oppression, it’s gonna suck. For a long time, I felt unsafe and had to use my energy to watch out for myself. And the worst of it was felt from my own housemates, who stopped talking to me because I was being “racist against white people” among other arrays of microagressions.

So one day in a state of anxiety, I opened up my computer and checked the deadlines for studying abroad. I knew I couldn’t afford it, but I’d rather bust my arse to find a way than endure more of this. The application was apparently due that day. So I just got to work immediately, asked for an extension and was able to turn it in a week after the deadline. I still owe my advisers, the abroad director and my professors my life for writing my recommendations so quick!

After that, I went to work looking for as many scholarships as I can. I didn’t get any IES scholarships, even the diversity one (despite the fact I’m one of about 4 POC there) but I was able to get some from Lawrence, and I was approved for an addition to to my student loans.

I feel like I was was fated to go. I kept getting these signals that I needed to get out, and it wasn’t just that I needed to leave, but I needed to be somewhere else. I didn’t realize until later that all of pain I endured from this past year was a sign that I had someplace better to be.

So I guess that’s how I got here. It’s still surreal though. Going to Europe has always been something like a display of class to me. That it was a luxury only to the rich, and even though they say there’s money to help you out, for an Arab musician with few connections that’s not the case at all. I think this  is why I always get shy around people that say they’re so jealous of me or how lucky I am. I guess I am lucky, there was so much luck that happened in this process, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. It was worth it though. So here’s hoping Vienna can open doors I would have never seen coming!

I’ll try to keep you all updated at least every 2 weeks, if not weekly. But for now, oh shoot they’re boarding…