I couldn’t make a decision about what city to move to. When I asked my mom, she simply said, “Stop moving and stay where you are.”
In early 2012, I decided I wanted to take a year-long break from life – a gap year. I had finally gotten my parents on board, my friends had already given me their blessings. All that was left to do was make the actual move, and I no longer had anything holding me back.
We left Yonezawa before 6 a.m., in January. My too-big-for-Japan family clambered into a van with half our belongings crammed into suitcases around us. We were moving back to the States, and my heart was breaking.
Having grown up in India, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey – countries where there is immense awareness about Islam – my most unique experience as a TCK Muslim was when I was studying abroad in Shanghai.
Being a true singleton without a surrounding expat community was a true test of self-reliance. I was just starting to develop my daily routines of where to buy groceries, where the good restaurants were, which gasoline station was convenient to go to, when everything came to a sudden stop on March 11, 2011.
Being a TCK had given me skills that made me ready for the world as an adult. Unfortunately, many of my students will probably never leave the state of North Carolina to be able to experience the diverse education that I received—which means that I have the responsibility of teaching beyond the textbook.
I was 23 years old and scared. Scared that I was turning into a corporate robot… scared that I was letting the best years of my life slip by as I sat in a cube and fiddled with Excel.