One of the best things about spending time in other places is that you get to meet and befriend people from all over the world. I now have good friends in places like the Czech Republic, Mexico, Argentina, and Egypt. I also have many American friends scattered across the US in places like LA, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, New York, and Miami. The sad thing is being a student with limited resources-- it's difficult to see your friends when they're spread apart like that. I mean, let's be honest, it's difficult enough to keep in touch with friends from La Porte, my hometown.
So you can imagine how delightful it was to fly to Vermont this past weekend for Fall Break to see a friend I met last summer in Egypt. We became good friends as we lived in Egypt. Both of us were learning Arabic in the same program, though he is at a more advanced level than me. He would frequently help me understand my Arabic homework, which was pretty amazing considering he had his own to do. He would also encourage me to use Arabic in public, which was helpful since I am shy about speaking Arabic to native speakers. Overall, he's good company.
He's a student at Dartmouth, which is in New Hampshire, but his family lives just across the river in Vermont. Now, I'd never been to New England before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I was extremely fortunate to be going there in the fall; as my plane descended over New Hampshire my heart fluttered-- there were rolling hills completely covered in every autumn color imaginable. Great swathes of gold, crimson, and burgundy were painted over the landscape. I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful fall. As we drove away from the airport I got to see the foliage more intimately. The forests were set atop craggy mountains and hills with bare stone protruding where it had been cut to make way for the road. It took my breath away.
We arrived at Dartmouth in the evening, which also happened to be the beginning of Homecoming ceremonies for the university. We watched the giant bonfire crackle and fall, I met many of my friend's friends, and we walked around campus. My friend also insisted on taking me to Vermont, and I'm so glad he did. Vermont is a beautiful state. He took me to a waterfall in his hometown, to the general store, and we even went to a birthday party for one of his parent's friends (I got to meet a lot of Vermonters there, plus a couple who had graduated from Ball State-- what are the odds?).
The next day he took me to a local diner for absolutely ginormous pancakes, which completely knocked me out, so we took the rest of the day easy. I ended up getting some locally-made syrup for my dad and some maple candy for my mom; otherwise we just lounged around and enjoyed the day, which was rainy but still beautiful. It was a truly lovely Fall Break.