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I’ve been back in DC since mid-May. I left Juarez the end of April and went on a whirlwind road-trip tour of the US, visited my parents and siblings in Utah, hung out with friends in Chicago, met my adorable new nephew in NY, and managed to cram in some quality time with my in-laws in PA and NJ. By the time I made it to DC, it was time to organize my husband’s pack out, move into my new apartment, and get him on his merry way to Qatar.

I’m 6 weeks into Arabic training. It’s weird being back at FSI and I haven’t quite found my language-training groove yet. Part of the problem is that I’ve only ever studied Arabic really intensely, so only being in class 5 hours a day with 3-ish hours of homework feels like I’m somehow doing too little and like I should be working much harder. Another part of the problem is that FSI is really only set up to get you to a 2/1, and anyone who wants a better score than that (especially in speaking) only means more work for the Arabic department, so there’s really not much incentive on the teachers’ end of the spectrum for students to get beyond the minimum. Of course, I don’t want the minimum. I want to get as much exposure to the language as I can, I want to be able to do my job in Doha confidently, and I want a better score if at all possible. So needless to say, I’ve found being back in class to be a bit frustrating and I haven’t made as much progress at regaining my Arabic as I had hoped to have made at this point.

It’s also been hard to be so far away from my husband. I really like that guy, you know? July 14 marks 1 full year since we’ve lived in the same house and the 7 hour time difference right now is really difficult to deal with. I’m already counting down the days until I get to see him in September (67 days!). He seems to be settling into life in Doha pretty well and he’s making friends and exploring the city as much as he can without a car. His UAB arrived last week and the HHE and our car should be there in the next 2 weeks although between the heat-induced shortened work hours and Ramadan, it’s likely that it’ll take some extra time for things to clear customs and to arrive at the Embassy. For the meantime, he’s making do and seems to have found local sources for most things. Between his busy schedule, my classes and other obligations, and the time zone difference, we are lucky if we can cram in a 30-minute FaceTime session awkwardly in the back of the cafeteria during my lunch break. It’s better than nothing, and having video chatting abilities is eons away from what our early long-distance days were like a decade ago, but it’s still hard.

I’m still working on back-posting the rest of my Juarez adventures, so for my understandably-dwindling-readership (hi mom!), look for posts soon about our Christmas trip to Barcelona, my 30th birthday in Mexico City, and my Oaxaca-Puebla Semana Santa trip, among others.

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