Updated: May 21, 2022
After suffering at the hands of a cold winter, spring has finally sprung. In early April, I booked my plane tickets back to Turkey. Putting an official departure date on the calendar immediately left me wondering about how many items I have been able to check off on my United States bucket list. The list that I'd hoped to accomplish for both my personal and professional growth.
The overall experience I have had in this country of limitless beauty, diversity, and freedom has been quite a story. As a woman who loves her regular rhythm, it was not that easy to get settled in the beginning and build a new life from scratch. It was hard to move away and put a large body of water between me and the people I care about. I had to reinvent myself and figure out who I was going to be in this new environment.
Looking back, I now realize that the entire process of reinventing myself in this small southern city can be split into two parts: July–September 2021 and November 2021 up until now. The first part was a real rollercoaster ride on both emotional and professional levels.
I spent the better half of the second part alternating between anger and sorrow. The wealth gap between the United States and my home country is huge. The more I observed the interplay of free speech and economic growth, the more I found myself trying to find an answer to the question “What if my beautiful country, which I love passionately, was able to engage in consistent research and development facilitated by the free exchange of ideas and information?”
After having a hard time socializing over trivial things, I came to the conclusion that I prefer to keep my own company. A typical day in my own company started by going through my morning routine: having my morning coffee accompanied by a quick Duolingo session and getting my endorphins high by working out. After spending most of the day in front of my computer, I took long afternoon walks and ended up at Panera Bread ordering a 470 cal/$3.29 Brownie “for here.”
Academically speaking, for the first time in five years, I have had no teaching responsibilities and it has been great to have so much time for just research. I have been able to diversify between projects, expand my knowledge, and participate in much more networking than ever! As a mathematician, my only regret about coming to the United States would be not coming here when I was younger.
I now have mixed feelings about going home. On one hand, I am very much looking forward to being with my family and catching up with friends, and I really, really, really missed my mother’s cooking. On the other hand, thanks to the high inflation rates (the highest in the last two decades) resulting from a failed monetary experiment, I have a nagging fear that I might not be able to have the same quality of life I used to have. I am not even sure I will be able to make ends meet.
April 2022, Rolla.