As of late, I’ve found myself stuck in a bit of a strange limbo. I’m a mere two months away from the end of my contract. On June 5 I will be hopping a flight to Singapore and then continuing to Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A. But on the flipside of things, I am suddenly falling into the kind of comfort and rhythm that is often found after living somewhere for an extended stay.
In my opinion, it takes about six months before you find your groove, before the things that used to seem weird or bizarre in a new place become normal and the sting of possible homesickness for the things you left behind becomes more of a gentle yearning and appreciation. And while I’m falling into this groove, I’m also preparing to leave. I feel like I have one foot solidly on the jungle-covered earth of Sumatra, while the other is hovering in the air preparing to alight the steps to a plane with a course set to the United States of America.
And while I know I will miss this crazy jungle, I am also insanely excited about seeing family and friends. There’s a constant tug-of-war happening with my emotions. One day I am basking in the beauty of this country, discovering a new place (most recently Padang, Danau Maninjau and Bukit Tinggi), while the next day I am itemizing the appliances in my apartment and calculating depreciation so I can sell them prior to my departure. As with everything here, it’s a push and a pull and a love and a hate that form the feelings I have felt for this place.
I remember it being October and November and feeling like the days were crawling by so slowly, feeling like the end was so far away. I would chat weekly with Naomi, a friend who started a TEFL contract in Poland around the time I started my contract here in Sumatra (she’s also a fellow TEFL Paris alum), and we would both try to comfort each other as we struggled through the culture shock and reality of teaching in a place very different from what we had known. But then we started to appreciate the things around us. Our conversations turned to sharing struggles in the classroom and in love and migrated away from sharing struggles related to homesickness and “hating” this or that about where we were “stationed.” And then one day I realized that we talked mostly about what we loved about where we were living, the interesting things we’d discovered. It was also around the same time that the contracts that seemed so far from reaching their end, were suddenly in their final months of existence.
And now, here I am, mere weeks away from my departure.
I am trying to not miss out on my final weeks in this dynamic archipelago, but I can’t help but to think of all the things I must do to prepare for going back to the States. So the struggle continues as the days on the calendar drop off and I ponder the next step in this adventure known as the life of a TEFL teacher.