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It's been about a week since I've arrived in London, and I'm still in bed recovering from a fever and this awful cough that's kept my hostel mates up all night. Apparently four (plus?) days stuck in bed while in London was the punishment for partying too hard the first three days. Every time I think I'm better and head outside for a quick breath it comes back in full force. Ughhh.

Not all that boring though. The hostel I'm staying in can be pretty fun and exciting. Last night, for instance, I was chilling in the dining room working on a school paper, when I noticed this pretty Middle Eastern girl setting to the corner doing her nails. I remembered her from the bed next to mine in our hostel room. Her name was not Yasmina, but that's the name I decided to give her for this blog.

Yasmina seemed so confident in herself. The room was full of all sorts of laughter and conversation and all sorts of people, yet Yasmina seemed perfectly happy sitting there all by herself doing her thing. She didn't seem to care whether anybody paid attention to her or not. I wished I could be like her and not be so afraid of being alone all the time.

I went and sat next to her and introduced myself as the girl in the bed next to hers, apologizing for my coughing fits. She said it's okay and smiled, and we started talking. Turns out she's more similar to me than I'd originally thought. She's 23 years old and left her home country, Jordan, to explore Europe on her own for the first time. She was on the med school track back at her university but she didn't want to be a doctor. She just wanted to see the world.

Yasmina's parents sounded very culturally similar to mine. As she described the problems she had with her mom, I kept finishing her sentences, knowing exactly how they'd end. Middle Eastern culture sucks for women, and parents are in large part responsible for that. Yasmina said she wanted to leave it all behind. She was scared but determined to do it.

Suddenly, I felt bad for Yasmina. She's the same age I was when I left home about three and half years ago, and although her childhood was not mine, I knew it would be harder for her than she can imagine right now. But I smiled and told her it's gonna be okay, and she'll do great as long as she chooses what she believes in. Besides, American men would love her, I said, and they wouldn't even make her cook or clean or anything.

"Really? You think an American man would love a girl like me?"

I laughed. "Duh."

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