Pockets of Time


June 25, 2023

The summer is off to a start and I feel like I just moved back to DC to start my internship and it’s already time for the first weekend trip of the summer! For the 4th of July weekend I’m taking the quickest trip ever back to London to spend some time with all of my extended family since we have a long weekend for the holiday. I was thinking about how crazy this sounds to most people – taking a transatlantic flight for just 4 days in a different city, but allow me to explain myself in this post.

I feel like as someone who has two home countries (and family that I want to visit in both places), lives abroad in a different country that is far far away, and has limited time to take breaks, I’m constantly living in little pockets of time. Adding in all the other factors into the mix, like taking part in internships and other people’s travel and work schedules and you end up with the smallest snippets of time in the year to plan a trip back home. I usually go back to Dubai in my winter break to see my immediate family, but seeing all of my extended family in London usually falls into the summer… but in the summer I’m also usually juggling an internship which is all the way over in America. These trips usually fall into a very small pocket of time that finally works for everyone’s schedules and when I can be gone for a long weekend or work remotely. It always feels like such a short and very jet lagged trip, but each time I feel so so lucky that I even have the opportunity to go home and spend time with my family.

I feel like to most people this sounds crazy, but in the life of an international you take what you can get. You can’t just hop on a train for a long weekend and be home in a few hours. Not only is it a long distance, but the public holidays and school timelines are different in other parts of the world, making it even more difficult to find that pocket of time to plan a trip! Sure, every time I go home for a small amount of time I’m dying from the jet lag and sleep deprivation, but being around the whole family makes it all worth it. My mum always teases me about how when I come home, I can fall asleep anywhere and spend any down time napping but you can understand why!

And the point of this post is not to harp on about how it’s so difficult to see your family when you live abroad or flex that I can take a short trip to London to see them. It’s more of a reflection point to recognize how grateful I am that I have opportunities to see the people I love, but also how it’s a tradeoff between having precious free time at home in DC, the very high costs of travel, and the toll it takes on you travel time and jet lag wise. I feel like because there’s such a trade off, I fall into this habit of pinning such high expectations on the trip back home because it’s such an expensive/tricky endeavour to plan. Going home and always having super high expectations for all the things I’ll do and the people I’ll see, and most of the time getting disappointed because there simply isn’t time to do it all, is something that I’ll often reflect on. Those are the moments when I wish that I was from Virginia or Maryland so I could be home in a few hours and that there wasn’t all this weight and coordination surrounding being home.

Something that I’ve been thinking about recently as I get closer to the end of college and have more experience with what a real full-time role will be, is how I’m going to find these pockets of time in my future life. I’ll be honest, it is something that kind of stresses me out! My parents and my sisters come and visit me in America, but none of my extended family do so it’s kind of on me to choose to keep up the relationship by finding a pocket of time to go home and visit them. But what will it be like when I only have a few weeks in the year to take some time off? Will I want to spend it on a transatlantic flight home? Or will I want to spend it peacefully at home in DC or with other people? These are all the big questions that I find myself thinking about more and more these days. I feel like I’m being pulled in the direction of trying to hold together my connections with my family when I live so far from home and build a life out here for myself with new people all while having very limited pockets of free time to do it all!

I don’t really know what the answer to this question is, and to be honest, I don’t even fully know where I’ll be living in the future and if I’ll have to make this tradeoff. All I know is for now, I’m content with finding little pockets of time where I am and trying to strike my own balance of spending time our here in DC and getting back home to see everyone once a year. Let me know what you think and if you have experiences like this in the comments!

See you next week,

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