I was re-reading some of my very first blog posts last night.
The ones in May 2009 when I was merely anticipating my move to Taiwan and talking about all the mixed feelings I had.
The one in early June when I actually got on a plane to leave Austin and bawled my eyes out.
The one recapping my very first day in Taiwan on June 11, 2009, when I was a) exhausted from 12.5 hours of flight and b) completely and totally overwhelmed and in shock at how different everything was and c) completely in awe and ready to persevere.
It's amazing how, three years later, things have changed so much and yet so little.
Here I am still seeking out challenges. Here I am still planning to move to locations that make my friends and family cringe but then smile and say they're proud of me and it's going to be amazing. It's wonderful what people will say to you in order to be appropriately supportive even though they obviously think you may have flown off your rocker just a little bit.
So here I am, signing a contract for a new job starting in September in, wait for it, Iraqi Kurdistan.
I'll give you a moment to re-read that sentence, say "WTF!," and then continue.
If I'm going to be honest, even I think I'm a little crazy, but that's part of the draw. I thought I was crazy for moving to Taiwan and it was an incredible growing experience. Moving to Prague was new and exciting as well and I've also grown and learned so much here.
How could I possibly turn down an opportunity to learn so much about a country that our military occupied for the better part of a decade? There's so much that I don't understand about the Middle East and I truly think I'm not going to ever understand it unless I'm in the thick of it.
And just so we're clear, I've done my research.
Kurdistan is the safest region in Iraq but I realize the clause "in Iraq" is a huge qualifier there. It's autonomously governed by the Kurdish Regional Government. It borders Syria to the west, Turkey to the north, Iran to the east and the rest of Iraq to the south. I know that at least two of those countries make all of you nervous.
No, it's not the safest place in the whole wide world (but neither is America). I have no illusions about that, but it's also not nearly as bad as everyone has gone out and made it. I'll be fine. I can tell you that I will only be allowed into Kurdistan and there's no travel into the southern regions. Darn, no weekend trips to Baghdad or Basra.
It's an incredible opportunity for me to learn and grow as a person and for me to extend my capabilities as a teacher. Besides, I can do anything for 12 months. Not to mention, can you imagine all the amazing stories I'm going to have for you folks?
But what I can say, is I kind of feel like I did back when I was anticipating Taiwan. I knew it was something that I wanted. I knew that it was a huge leap. I knew that I would need to be incredibly independent and able to rely on myself.
I had butterflies in my stomach. I was nervous as all hell. But I was also shaking with excitement and anticipation. And that's exactly how I feel now. This is how I know I'm making the right choice.
That said, I'm totally going to cry like a little baby when I leave Prague.