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Bed·ou·in (noun or adj.) ˈbe-də-wən, ˈbed-wən 1. Desert dweller, nomadic Arab of the desert. 2. A wanderer or rover.

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I’ve never been one to do anything spectacular for New Year’s Eve—no sparkly dresses, big trips, or fancy champagne for me. The idea of another year just around the corner is pretty overwhelming, and I always feel the weight of its goals squarely on my shoulders. The feeling(s) has two parts—the first comes from a reflection on the year past, and the second is anticipation for what’s to come. As I look back on 2012, I am both grateful for my experiences and beholden to the people who made them possible. In January, I moved back to Athens, Ohio to finish up my senior year. I stressed out a lot about what would happen after graduation. I made a wonderful friend who shares my culture and my clothing size, so it was a double win. I went back to speech and debate after a semester away, and found love in it once more. In April, I said goodbye to the activity that had ruled eight years of my life in the most picture-perfect ending I could have imagined. I also found out what I would be doing after graduation, and I took a deep breath. I blinked, May was over, and suddenly I was zipping up my black gown and walking to the graduation ceremony in hot weather and heels. I stood next to one of my best friends for the past six years, we cracked jokes the entire time, and I wondered how lucky one person should be. June and July were spent in southeastern Ohio, running every morning, getting too much sun, and eating quinoa with my beautiful roommate. I said some hard goodbyes in July and August. Then, I boarded a plane for the Middle East and, well, you know what’s happened since.

Last night, New Year’s Eve, I ended up at a party on the Dead Sea. It was an out of character move for me; I usually spend the night of December 31st in solitude. At two o’clock in the morning, well after the midnight cheers and whistle blowing, I found myself staring at the ocean, slightly dizzy from drink and salty air. I have no clue what is coming next after this Fulbright year is done, but standing in the breeze I felt a swell of excitement for the unknown—to be young and not tied down by anything. To be able to move anywhere, go anywhere, pursue a career and a life somewhere with regard only to myself and how I can best fit my talents and passions into this wide world. I’m excited to continue to carve out a life here in Amman. To continue making wonderful friends, and learning about my language and culture. And I wonder what will happen afterwards, how these people and experiences will resurface later on in moments where I will blink in astonishment at all the funny ways that life jams together its seemingly incongruous puzzle pieces. As I think about the past year, and the inevitable joys and heartaches of the Unknown Future, I return to one of my favorite quotations, introduced to me by my sister:

This is what I want! I want to decide my tomorrow, and with these slender fingers, I want to build my own life. I want to remove the thorns with my own hands. I want to stumble over piles of stones on deserted paths and then get up again.

-Emily Nasrallah

So, my resolutions? Next year, I resolve to ask more questions, and to cook more. The former, to get over my reluctance to seem unintelligent or like I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s one big impediment to self-improvement and growth in knowledge. The latter, so that I can feel independent and in control. I am ready to accept the challenges, failures, successes, and impending experiences of 2013. I feel like I’m at the top of the first big hill on a roller coaster, holding my breath.