It’s been almost two weeks since I left Morocco (what?) and being back in the States is by far more surreal than I imagined. My first thought upon landing in Detroit was, WHY ARE HOUSES SO BIG AND WHY IS THERE IS SO MUCH SPACE IN BETWEEN THEM?! I then proceeded to tell the guy at customs “shukran” out of habit, and got looked at like a complete weirdo.
From that point on, I had to begin readjusting to my own culture. Beyond trying to stomach high-processed fatty foods again, it’s been most difficult finding the words to convey my rollercoaster of a semester after the typical prompt, “How was Morocco?!” How do I sum all of that up into a one-liner? Because you know, people care about my experience, but not enough to sit through an hour-long conversation where I try to explain the concept of living in a medina.
I’ve already begun to notice changes in myself and how I’m transitioning. I keep having to refrain from my Arabic-isms like adding inshallah to the end of every sentence. I’m also still a bit more on-edge in public than I need to be. Yesterday I glared at a man in an upscale neighborhood for trying to offer me a sample of some organic smoothie. I cringe at my $10 Uber rides that would’ve cost me 20 dirham max in a petit taxi. I roll my eyes even more when I hear any generalizations about Islam on the news. I’m also craving couscous and tea.
I’m enjoying my independence, having my own apartment, and being back in Chicago. However, it’s hard not to feel like everything is becoming mundane again. There are many moments where I find myself missing the constant excitement of being abroad. I suppose boredom is the tradeoff for comfort and familiarity. I think it was easy for me to idealize what it would be like to finally come home at times I was homesick, but now that I am home, it’s pretty much same old same old.
After peeking at my first blog post, I surprisingly sounded much more prepared than I remember. I was really right. I signed up to be pushed out of my comfort zone, and I knew the experience of a lifetime wouldn’t come easily. So, to go back to the way it’s difficult to answer, “How was Morocco?” I guess my best response is that its worth was that it was equally extremely challenging and fascinating. It was a semester that truly widened my perspective on the world. It changed the way I interact with and try to understand others as well as the way I self-reflect.
For any future student reading through my blog, desperately seeking advice on how to prepare for a semester in Morocco, here’s what you need to do: stop seeking advice. All you can really do is prepare to be unprepared, and it’ll be a wonderful, terrible, exhausting, all-consuming mess. It won’t be your typical semester abroad, but my life will be forever impacted by my time in Morocco and I will be forever grateful for it. Alhamdulillah.
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<p>Assalamu Alaikum, Bonjour, Hello! I'm Camille and I'm currently in my second year studying Political Science and International Studies at Loyola University Chicago. I'm thrilled to be spending my semester in Rabat, Morocco and hope you all enjoy hearing about my journey! Expect bad puns and lots of pictures of food.</p>