Living here is a constant challenge. It's a challenge to my faith, it's a challenge to my customs, and it's a challenge to the patriotic feelings I have for my country. I had to explain why the idea that 9/11 was an inside job was ludicrous to my 10th graders. I am spoken to about Christianity in a tone that seems to say, "that's so cute that you believe that...". I have started speeding.
And yet, I find myself defending this place to people back home. I get a twinge of irritation when I see things people write about the Kingdom. I write facebook comments and then decide not to send them because I know it would cause a thing. When I get home I know that I'm going to have some interesting conversations with people who think they know a lot about this place, but don't actually know a damn thing.
This has led me to a very strange conclusion: like Spock, I am a child of two worlds now. I have the burden of knowledge and experience that will never let me hear a news story about the USA without dreading what it will be. I won't be able to see an event like the "trial" of Islam in Florida without thinking immediately of my students and getting sad that after all I do to try and show them what a great thing America is, I get this. I will never be able to read the reports about protests in the Kingdom without seeing that no one really sees what's going on. When I get home, I know I'm going to be culture shocked. I'm going to shake hands with everyone a million times, drive too fast and honk unnecessarily, and just generally feel uncomfortable. This is going to be very strange.
So I have been completely changed by this experience and it's not even halfway over. I'm still Tyler, there's no doubt about that. I love puns, oreos, and a good, cold, dark beer (can you tell I'm excited for Berlin?). But my perspective has shifted and my understanding of who I am in relation to the rest of the world is different now and will always be.