NEPAL (July 14, 2022) It had been the first time in ages when I woke up neither through an alarm nor my mother shouting at the top of her lungs. My room was filled with my luggage waiting patiently for our flight. I always look forward to traveling, but this time, I felt a number of mixed emotions–how could I not be? I was moving to an entirely new country for the next four years. I bid adieu to my friends, my cat, and my family; then went on the very first flight of my life. This was the start of many “firsts” and the beginning of my four-year journey at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q).
When the captain announced that we were taking off from Nepal, it was only at that point that reality truly struck me. I was leaving my home, the place that meant everything to me. The thought evoked a strange feeling. I asked myself, “Will I be able to adjust in Qatar? Will I be even able to call it home?”. Even though these thoughts kept my head reeling, I was still looking forward to everything.
The four hours in the air went by quickly, I was now in Qatar. As I came out of the airport at 12:30 p.m., the heat waves instantly struck me. I had never experienced such wind before – it was as though it had a different feel and scent to it. Perhaps it was just another “first” in my list of “firsts.”
Our classes began promptly on the 24th of July after the lively and engaging New Student Orientation (NSO) week. While I felt anxious about taking subjects such as economics for the first time, my fears were resolved the moment I witnessed the excitement my professor shared. It was reassuring to note how the professor tried to cater to all the students' different backgrounds in economics.
In addition, not only the classrooms but also the clubs and events manage to embody the Hoya spirit. I recently became part of the Desert Hoya crew and it already feels as though I have my own little family as we had the opportunity to tour museums at Msheireb together. One of the projects we had also worked on as the Desert Hoya team included an Open House event to familiarize prospective Georgetown students with the university. Every time I attend classes and participate in these events, I realize what being a “Hoya” truly means. For me, being a Hoya means getting to celebrate Palestinian night with students from all over the world and being there for my friend when she misses her family. Being a Hoya also means bringing different ideologies and perspectives to the table while discussing topics such as the history of Mesopotamia or the Persian Empire.
While the transition was initially a bit harder than I expected, there are several encounters that have made me perceive Qatar as though it is home. From the day I arrived up until now, the greatest part of my experience has been the people themselves. From the staff at the airport who helped me with simple concerns such as buying a sim card to a friend who took the time to receive me in the lobby, I have been showered with love from the very start.
Through my time here, I have also realized that there are habits that may never change whether I am in Nepal or Qatar. I still run late for classes no matter how early I wake up. I still love sipping chiya, traditional tea in Nepal, that is now just in the Qatar version of karak. After spending more than two months here, I feel as though I can finally call it home. After all, “home” is not a place, it is a feeling.