Greetings earthlings!

I imagine most people can relate to the bittersweet feeling of sitting in an airport, sharing space with thousands of hurried others, getting ready to return home from travels of some variety. Stressed out parents, conked out kids, delayed travelers asleep on the floor, everybody vying for the last remaining outlet like it’s a quidditch match. Everyone waiting to be somewhere—anywhere—but here. Airports are both the exciting first facet of a journey, and the grueling final obstacle before you finally get home. Bittersweet.

At least, they are for me. I absolutely love to travel, but I hate airports. They are both the symbolic manifestation of wanderlust, and also the bane of my existence. Conflicted, I know.

As I sit in this airport, the first of four I will sit in in the next 30 hours, I am a whirlwind of emotion. Exhausted, sad to be leaving this enlightening adventure, excited to get home to my loved ones, anxious that I didn’t get enough data while simultaneously overwhelmed by the prospect of managing the plethora of data that I did get.

I do feel a sense of relief, though, that I had so much more good than bad luck. That I met and worked with so many amazing and generous women, who gave much of themselves to contribute to my project. Who took a chance on a stranger and opened their lives to me. For many of the women in my study, I am the only person they have had these conversations with—taking on the taboo. That fact alone makes me feel honoured, and also very responsible.

I worry about getting all of my data organized and into a coherent thesis that does justice to the knowledge gained, and does right by my participants.

First thing first, I want to get on this plane and go to sleep.

And now, here I am on the first plane. Seven hours in (of 15) and sleep is evading me. Two movies and five episodes of New Girl later, I think I should finish this up, my final blog posting. But what can you really say at the end of one part of an ongoing journey?

This experience has been intensely influential. It has broken down so much of my preconceived knowledge and challenged me to think differently, both about the world and about myself. About who I want to be in the future, and how I want to walk through the world. I have always thought of myself as part of a global community, but I think that idea was fragmented and ‘out there’—something I couldn’t define. Now, more than ever, it has been solidified. It is about building connections across, and recognizing the fluidity of, the so-called ‘boundaries’ between people. It’s about conscious exploration, trying new things, getting to know new people, absorbing new ideas and perspectives. It’s about having conversations and stepping outside of your comfort zone, and returning a better person than when you left. Someone who wants to contribute to making the world at large a better place, starting with their own communities.

I hope I am becoming more and more of this person. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the Crossing Borders Outgoing Researcher Scholarship, and the experience I have had over the last three and a half months in Melbourne. On to the next step!

Sampai Lain waktu!