Summer is just around the corner. It’s hard to believe, but before I know it, I will be on a plane back to America. To be honest, I’m a little nervous. I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of life in Turkey and going back will just make everything more confusing again. America feels like it was a million lifetimes ago and I know it won’t be the same when I go back because I won’t be the same. I’m just not sure if I’m ready for my first reverse culture shock experience, but ready or not, it’s coming.
More than anything, I’m looking forward to seeing all of my friends and family and EATING!! I am going to eat all of the Mexican food I can get my hands on. In order to keep my summer from descending into unstructured chaos, I’ve decided to make a few small goals for myself to make the most of my time off in the good old U.S. of A.
Goal #1 Re-discover my old stomping grounds (and maybe a few new ones)
Now that I’m used to traveling all the time, I don’t think I can ever go back. I want to travel as much as I can, even if it’s just small trips to local places on the weekends. I have realized that there is always something new to discover in any place, whether it’s big or small. I’m hoping to see the Motherland with a new pair of eyes. I also want to use this space to shed a little light on life in the Midwest and the South since they are generally lesser-traveled parts of the country and where I will happen to be for most of my time there.
Goal #2 Sharpen my language skills
I’m not gonna lie…I haven’t been as productive on the language front as I was hoping to be this year. It was really hard to squeeze it in amidst the chaos of being a first year teacher in a brand new and vastly different culture. I’m hoping to hit the re-set button this summer and dedicate at least a few hours a week to studying French and Turkish. Who knows…I may even try to throw in some Spanish…and even some English. There is no such thing as learning too much.
Goal #3 Hit the books
Another thing I haven’t done nearly often enough is read. I did manage to read five books this school year, but I’d like to have read at least double that. I’ll have about two months off, so I’m hoping I can get through at least two books per month…and ideally more. I’m also going to try to make at least half of my reading in French. I want to make it into a habit so I can keep up with my Goodreads shelves more efficiently next year. It doesn’t hurt that I’ll be spending a good chunk of summer within walking distance of the beach on the Gulf Coast. It’ll be a perfect spot to chill out with a good book (or Kindle…which I will likely be investing in).
Goal #4 Step up my teaching game
One of the big reasons this year was so crazy was that I was part of a brand new teaching department (seriously…seven of us were brand new this year) with a new administration, so you can imagine what I was walking into. I didn’t even know which classes I would be teaching until two days before I arrived (which was only two days before school started). I didn’t have any time to plan any kind of decently organized curriculum and everyone else around me was equally lost, so it was basically a whole year of treading water for all of us. Next year will be different. I’m looking forward to doing some awesome, creative, and best of all, STRUCTURED things with my students next year. I will be spending a lot of time on Amazon and in bookstores.
Goal #5 Get back in shape!
The craziness of being a first year teacher coupled with culture shock completely through me off track in terms of my fitness regimen. In the States, I was eating fairly healthy and exercising almost every day. Here, I’ve pretty much just eaten whatever the cafeteria was serving and have gone multiple weeks without hitting the gym more than once. Not okay! I am hoping to re-center myself and start over with my old healthy habits and hopefully carry them through into next year.
Goal #6 Be creative
I have not been very good about pursuing my creative hobbies this year, so I want to change that. I want to work on developing my creative writing skills more (I may even look for a workshop!) and I wouldn’t mind working on a little drawing or just some arts and crafts for fun. Who knows…I may even convince my husband to finally teach me hwo to play the drums. I haven’t had enough creative outlets this past year, so I’m looking forward to expressing that side of myself.
Goal #7 Soak up the freedom
Isn’t that what summer is all about? I will certainly have some work to do, but I also want to detach from the part of myself that is always working and putting on my “professional” face, especially since I work in a boarding school. I want to take some time to be a little wild and spontaneous and irresponsible. There will definitely be impromptu plans, partying, long nights of gaming and binge-watching Netflix… I desperately need to reconnect with that part of myself and remind myself that I’m still young and there’s a lot more to who I am than my job.
I know summer will probably go by faster than I could ever imagine, and I know this is quite an ambitious list, but I’m feeling optimistic, so I may as well shoot for the stars, right?
To those out there reading: What are your summer plans? Any tips on dealing with reverse culture shock?