When I was a child, I used to eat the green part of the watermelon and throw the red part in the trash. Recalling back my embarrassing childhood, I learned one thing: I love to break the norms! While my eyes were scanning through the list of countries King’s Academy offered for exchange, I stopped at choice number four, which everyone left out. It was India! The first thoughts in my mind were blurry snapshots of cows walking in the street and TV screens displaying Bollywood movies. “Uh oh. It is time to eat the green part of the watermelon!”
On the 25th of July, I crossed The Lawrence School of Sanawar’s main gate, and there it all began…
Being lost within the exhaustion of my thoughts and speculations, I stepped into the dorm. The first sight of it was scary. It looked like a beehive to me; tens of beds stacked together in rows. Looking at the people around me, they were carrying heavy bags, warmly greeting each other, and suffocatingly hugging one another. As I moved towards my bed, all the eyes were staring, not at me, but at my hijab!
As time passed, I was circled by my exchange partner’s friends, excitedly talking to each other in Hinglish and looking at me from time to time. The funny thing was when they were speaking in Hindi, my mind played tricks on me that I started to doubt whether they are cursing at me in Hindi or not.
All of the sudden, one girl shouted: “Girls, girls, let’s go see the new loo.” A sudden excitement pierced me. The word “loo” sounded exhilarating to me. “Yeah yeah, let’s go to the loo.” Arrey!!! (A sound for disappointment in Hindi). The loo was just a bathroom. In Jordan, I never heard people calling a bathroom a loo, and I never knew the word itself!
The second morning being at the school, my exchange partner had a hard time waking me up to do the mandatory morning exercises, which they called “P.T.” I looked at my watch. It was 6:00 am. I was dazzled! It has been ages and ages that I checked the time and it is 6:00 am “in the morning.”
I got out of the dorm with one eye open and the other still in its seventh dream. I was moving my body sluggishly during the stretching exercises. At that moment, I realized that my best friends were right when they told me: “You look like a zombie, Rand!”
During the day, I got to know many people. Thanks to my exchange partner who waved to millions of people, telling them, “Hi. This is Rand. My exchange partner!”
It was almost complete “except” that I was missing someone dear to my heart. Someone who is a part of me. Someone whom I crave for: my phone! Spending my time there without my phone in my pocket 24.7 was like trying to breath in Delhi; really suffocating!
During the day, I attended many classes. The most fascinating thing about the classes in Sanawar was not academic, but the two minute-breaks that the teachers gave to the students in the middle of class. This was because I shockingly observed the students’ extraordinary ability to cover a wide variety of talks and ask hundreds of questions during this short period of time.
One thing that I struggled with was adapting the routine in Sanawar, for it is different from the routine at my school. I always say that my school, King’s Academy, has an extremely hectic routine. Guess what! I take that back! At night, when the silence reigned in the dorms, I felt exhausted, as if all my bones had been broken even though I slept more than all the students there!
One thing I liked about the school the most was wishing teachers in dorms, on the way to classes and even in classes themselves. By wishing, I mean when a teacher passes, students take a respective pose and greet him or her. In the first school day there, I noticed that my exchange partner and the rest were wishing the teachers all day, so I wondered whether it was a wishing day or something! It took me time to remember that I had to wish the teachers too, but by the end of my exchange, I was like a recorder all day: Good morning sir, good morning ma’am, good morning sir, good morning ma’am!
Sitting on my desk now, writing this article, my exchange adventure is nostalgically replaying in my mind. I cannot say anything, except that it was a delicious watermelon!