I’m 20 years old, and for the first time in my life, I’m about to fly solo to a part of the world that isn’t quite the vacation spot you’ve seen on television. I’m spending three months in the Middle East, and I think that this may actually be the best decision I’ve made in quite awhile.

Last year, I made my homecoming to Iran with my mother and my younger sister and ever since, I’ve been dying to go back. When I first told my parents about my decision, they were a little confused about the length of my trip. Three months? They stared at me and waited for me to say I was kidding. “You’re going to get tired, are you sure?”

I was entirely certain, because I feel a sense of belonging to not just my home here, but my home in the east. I moved to Canada when I was barely four and I can’t remember much about actually living in Iran. Most years, my mother would take us in the summer to see family. As soon as the school year came to an end, I was ready for summer in Iran. In my younger mind, it was this place that felt fake: It didn’t feel real because life there looked so different. I remember little details, like the heat, the parks, bottled coke and sitting in my grandparents’ backyard for afternoon tea. I remember being bored to death during the siesta because everyone would be sleeping and no stores would be open. Me, my brother and my cousins would try to stay quiet, which never worked out, and we usually ended up in the backyard during the sun’s peak getting terrible cherry-red sunburns. It felt fake because women covered up, the cars were box-shaped, men and women had separate pool days, there was no Kraft Dinner and the homes didn’t look like mine.

As soon as I came back to Canada, that world became very dream-like. It was back to reality. As I grew older, I realized that the fake world is very real. It’s where I come from, and where my family lives their real lives. I wanted to be a part of that as much as I could, but with highschool, interning, working and everything in between, I got so busy that I forgot about the part of me that belongs to that country.

I live in a city that people in Iran dream of living in, but sometimes I feel like something is missing. Perhaps it is my family that I miss in the picture of my life, but sometimes I just like the idea of being in a society that is so extremely different. The shock is something that I can’t explain, and it isn’t necessarily bad. Okay, living in Tehran might not be everyone’s dream for various reasons, but to me, it’s a reminder that my almost-perfect life isn’t the only type of life that exists. Life in every part of the world can look like a movie scene, but the truth is there are people just like me waking up, going out with friends and stressing about exams every single day. I am ready to detach myself (a little, since I’ll have a cellphone) from some aspects of the non-stop tethered life I live. I am ready to feel that warmth of the motherland with all its crowdedness and Western mimics that I find rather hilarious at times. I have two homes, and I’m ready to see my home in the east. Follow me on my little journey as I eat, sleep, and breathe Iran via my Instagram and Shedoesthecity.com