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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Sorry for using this blog as a photo dump and putting zero of my thoughts on here. Literally zero. I’ve been feeling unmotivated to write, mostly because I’ve passed the one-year mark in Amman, and this stopped feeling like a new and different experience a while ago. It seemed self-indulgent to blog. Would I publicly muse about my daily life if I were in a U.S. city? Probably not. I have a full time job, now, and things remain in their normal state of semi-normalcy. Nevertheless, I will mark this milestone with the proper amount of reflection.

Last week, I turned 23. That makes two birthdays spent in the country of Jordan. I think people must be wondering what I’m still doing here (this crosses my mind sometimes, too). I was supposed to be gone for a year, to have this ten-month stint and then return to the United States. Instead, I found myself searching for excuses to prolong my stay—first for the summer, then for the fall, and now probably until next summer. There are many reasons for this, of varying lengths and complexities, but I guess the short answer is that I love being in the Middle East. I like Amman, how tame it is but also how things are happening underneath the surface and how easy it is to find those things out. I like how full of foreigners it is, Arab and non-Arab and everything in between. I like my job and hearing people’s stories. I like being in the middle of things, feeling connected to the disquiet, disruption and dreaming that are happening in the region around me. So, now I’m 23, but I don’t feel uncertain or insecure about my choices—for the most part.

Recently, though, I’ve picked up a series of weird motivational habits. Sometimes I sit in the café with sound-cancelling headphones and the volume turned up, listening to crooked smile and pretending that J. Cole is singing to me. In the morning, I drink my coffee sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor because it makes me feel serene or at the very least earthy and unconventional. I often look at my reflection and say evenhanded things like you are capable or you can do it or please don’t unravel today. I wear mascara a lot more often. I’m not entirely unfazed by being young but also having responsibility for my actions and being largely untethered to anything or anyone. It requires a particular type of emotional self-care, which I have embraced maybe a little too fervently.

In summary: 23 feels great, better than 22, and I like where I am and where I’m headed. Aaaanyways. Later, my friends. I’ll write again soon about something else of minimal importance. Salaam.

Guys, it was my birthday! For those of you who don’t know this about me, I love my birthday. I probably start talking about it a month in advance. Maybe two. Anyways, I was so excited about turning another year older in a new place, surrounded by great new friends. We all went to this swanky restaurant called Scenario, and had a lovely dinner. Then, they brought out a cheesecake with re-lighting candles. The moment, captured by my friend Lindsey:

I even ordered a glass of champagne. 22 felt so classy. It definitely came as sweet relief and a wonderful break after being sick (I came down with a yucky case of the flue post-Eid that landed me in the emergency room, and bedridden for three days). In addition to being real-life sick, I’ve been feeling pretty homesick lately. You know when they give you those graphs of culture shock that indicate an initial rise in happiness upon arrival, and then a subsequent dip before the line stabilizes–I feel like I’m at that dip. However, I’m doing my best not to entertain despondent thoughts or think too much about friends and family back home. I’m working on a video for a great non-profit here in Amman, I picked up an internship writing success stories for a fiscal policy reform project, and I’m taking a documentary course at the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts. All in all, definitely trying to keep busy and continuing to explore my passions. Being out of school, no longer having everything immediately accessible, it feels like I’m trying to re-discover what captures my heart in the real world. Devoid of classes, speech and debate, a structured and scheduled laundry list of activities, it’s been a journey of trying to find fulfillment that isn’t fleeting. I’ll keep you updated on how that’s going. I’m starting to read more books, and take spinning classes at my gym. I’m also trying to devote time to analyze and figure out my emotions–which I have a lot of, especially here. This is going to sound so weird, but I often just sit down and am like, hmm Nadine, why are you feeling this way? What is it about your character that made you react like that? My 22nd year of life has ushered in some serious introspection, but in a good way. Finding Myself Abroad, Part One.

Again, will keep you updated on that. Until next time, my friends.