With my flight to Morocco not departing until the first of February and my classes in Chicago having finished mid-December, I’ve had WAY too much time to myself here in small-town Ohio. I was fortunate enough to have opportunities to travel while I was growing up here, but ever since I moved off to college I can barely stay put.
But really, can you blame me? The other day I told a nurse at my appointment for travel shots that I was going to Morocco for the semester, and she told me (and I quote) to “keep an eye out for ISIS.” First of all, I don’t even know what “keeping an eye out for ISIS” entails. Secondly, I got really frustrated. This wasn’t the first time I’d received a comment like this, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. I feel guilty for dodging the question when people ask where I’m going and what I’m studying when they hear I’m going abroad. It’s not because I’m ashamed, but rather I’m running out of patience. I don’t know how many more times I can smile and nod politely while people (normally adults superior to me in some way shape or form) say horribly racist and bigoted things to me.
It’s true that people fear the things they don’t understand, and it’s terribly upsetting. The reality is that these people likely won’t go anywhere outside of their bubbles. I know not everyone is afforded the opportunity to study abroad for a semester, so, if anything, I want to be able to show people through my blog, stories, photos, etc. what other cultures have to offer and why they shouldn’t be feared.
Anyway, I digress, back to my point about me being all over the place 24/7.
This past year I have called many places home: my freshman dorm at Loyola in the spring, my aunt’s house in Chicago for a month as I was transitioning from the end of the semester to summer, my host mom’s apartment in Aix-en-Provence, France, my childhood home in Ohio with my parents for the short sporadic breaks during which I kindly reminded them that I was indeed still alive, and my sophomore dorm during fall semester back at Loyola. Soon, I can add my Moroccan host family to the list. Clearly, I’m not content without complete and utter (organized) chaos in my life. It’s refreshing after living in the same farm town for 18 years.
Even for this month-and-a-half-long break I’ve hardly sat still. As soon as finals ended, I packed up my bags (ha, actually it was one tiny backpack because I’m cheap and fly budget airlines that charge for anything other than a personal item) and I made my first trip out to the Rockies. My good friend from Loyola and her wonderful family hosted me for a week in Salt Lake City, Utah. Then, after a nice quiet Christmas at home in Ohio (the first time I’d been home in months since the last time I had first been home in months), I packed right back up for Washington D.C. to attend a conference and Chicago to say goodbyes to my friends and family there.
And as all of this happened, a New Year, 2016, and a new age, 20, were handed to me. And with these changes, I reflected on what I think and hope this year will hold.
I didn’t sign up to spend a semester in Rabat, Morocco because I think it’ll be easy or vacation time. As much as I loved my summer studying in France, I craved something more challenging. I’m fully ready and capable of being pushed out of my comfort zone. Ever since I (kind of spontaneously) signed up for this upcoming semester I’ve gone through waves of “OMG THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST SEMESTER OF MY LIFE” and “WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING I’M NOT MENTALLY PREPARED FOR THIS.” I think both are accurate. And as crazy as it may sound, I’m excited to be scared, lost, and upset (easy for me to say now, stay tuned for my future blog post titled Scared, Lost, Upset and HATING It—kidding… sort of) But really, not to sound cliché and pseudo-inspirational but it’s true that the most enriching experiences make you uncomfortable. It’s because they challenge your identity and worldview. Not much of value comes easily.
I do have a few concerns before this all begins:
How far will my French and one semester of Arabic take me?
How do I dress in a way that’s both culturally appropriate and doesn’t have me drenched in sweat once it reaches 90+ degrees?
Is my 2-hour layover in Paris long enough to hunt down a Café Paul and order at least 10 pain au chocolats to satisfy my cravings for the past 6 months?
The world will someday know.
So with that, Morocco, I’m ready.
Thanks for sticking with me through this lengthy first post. I promise much more exciting content and many adventures are to come!
Let’s go! Yalla!
More Blogs From This Author
<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>