I just purchased my round-trip tickets from Chicago to Amman a few minutes ago, and as I watch the various confirmation emails flow into my inbox (from the purchasing website, the airline, and from the credit card company wondering why I’m making such large purchases) a range of conflicting emotions are starting to flow in as well.

The tickets have me leaving on the 20th of August, which means that I literally have 25 days remaining in the country of my birth before leaving for four months to teach computer hardware in a country where I can’t yet speak more than a dozen words of the native language. I’ll be leaving behind all of my family, all of my friends, and the rather cozy Wisconsin fall climate. I won’t be back until Christmas, and then only for a week. I won’t know anyone except my new colleague/guide in my new home, and I don’t know whether my students will like me or not, or whether I’ll even be an effective teacher.

Those are the worries that I have. However, at the same time for the first time in weeks, I’m quite calm when I think about the future because I know that I’ll be doing something I love – teaching computer hardware – and helping the Iraqis who need it. Hopefully, I can use my almost a decade of experience with circuits, cables, and troubleshooting for their benefit. Many of my friends can attest to the enthusiasm which I talk for hours about how aspects of computer hardware or software work (often far beyond the point where they’ve stopped caring and are just in “smile and nod mode”) and I hope that this love that I have for sharing my knowledge can translate into Arabic. Heck, it will probably be a good experience to make me slow down, choose my words thoughtfully, and be more concise!

I just turned 22 a couple days ago. It’s a weird feeling – it’s like 21 is the last time when you can be a kid, or a student, and party and be a little crazy and not be concerned about things. I want to make these last 25 days in America count, and spend as much time as I can with the friends and family that mean so much to me. Just like they always say though, I have a feeling that the days will fly by even faster as the sun sets on my time in Madison.