Recently I’ve come to realize that I have a tendency to split up time in my mind to really understand how long something takes or to gauge how far off an event is. Often this habit shows itself, embarrassingly, through the semi-obsessive tracking of expiration dates. I have always made a mental note about when each item of food expires in the refrigerator. Spoiled milk is my arch nemesis and I will throw out a perfectly good looking loaf of bread if the ink on the bag tells me to do so. I really like to see important dates of expiration, like holidays or my birthday. When I am looking forward to something and I know that it will be here before my milk curdles I know it is actually going to happen. It sounds crazy, probably because it is.

Besides using spoilage as a unit of time, I also tend to keep track of my progress in terms of fractions. I am half-way/almost half-way/more than half-way through the month, the week, the day, even the lesson if it is going poorly. Half-way means that I can see exactly how far I have to go, because I can remember exactly how long it took me to get here. I like half-way. Of course I am keeping track of the number of months I have been here, but I also know that this 3 month mark means an easy fraction. I am a third of the way through my contract already! I tried to put my finger on a quarter, but… a quarter of 9 months is 2.25, which is 9 weeks, and I guess that was too odd for me to put effort into pinpointing.

Now I know that I will be here twice as long as I have already been here (I’ve been here 3 months, so 3+(3×2)=9 ). Also, this marks the longest that I have ever been away from home, my family, Wisconsin, the US, or even an English speaking country (I’m still on Earth, right?). I will admit it – I am proud of myself for making it this far. If my first week here was any indication of how long I would be here…. Let’s just say I wouldn’t have thought I could make it to week two. It was definitely the worst I have felt in my life. I can see how experiencing a new threshold of pain and fear can really make you a stronger person. When you deal with something you thought you couldn’t, you realize that you can’t really fathom your own limits. I am learning that everyone is much stronger than they know – or would like to admit. If we acknowledge that we are capable of doing more than we are currently doing, it becomes clear that we aren’t living up to our full potential. That’s a tough pill to swallow.