Leaving Behind Predictability And My Winter Coat

Kate Lusignan
January 24, 2020

Maine winters are predictably unpredictable. On a given day during late November and early March, I will open my blinds to white snow flurries that blanket everything in sight or snap the blind to a barren cold, grey-white landscape.

Over the years, I have adapted to the biting cold and blustering snow. I have learned—the hard way—to leave time in the morning to defrost my car and I have perfected a slow, but graceful, shuffle across black ice.

As I watched my roommate, who moved half-way across the country from Oklahoma to Maine for college, adjust to the novelty of snowy mornings and never-ending cold with eagerness, curiosity, and few complaints, I realized I had become too comfortable with my own surroundings. Winters had become a cyclical constant that had become nothing more than a slight annoyance.

In less than a week, I will leave behind piles of snow, my winter jacket, and my home, and I will step out of my comfort zone and onto a plane headed for sunny and vibrant Morocco. The decision to study abroad 5000 miles away from every place I called home was surprisingly unmethodical. While poring over dozens of brochures, I considered refining my French in Paris or studying literature in London, but I kept circling back to Morocco. I was captivated by images of colorful spices in the medina and excited about exploring the country’s vibrant cities. Of course, I know better than to judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a country by its brochure, but after hearing about Morocco from people who visited and studied abroad, I had booked a ticket based on the promise of unparalleled hospitality, cuisine, and community.

Despite my excitement to meet my new host family and the students in my program, the last few weeks have been filled with worry over small minutiae like whether I’ll walk or take a bus to class and much larger worries such as whether elementary French, which I haven’t spoken since high school, will be enough to communicate with my host family. Yet, these doubts and worries have already encouraged me to open old French textbooks. I have been recalling words and verb conjugations, which were easy in high school but have been forgotten after years of unuse. While thinking about all the changes to come in the next three months, I often cast aside thinking about a crucial reason for going abroad, school. However, revisiting old French notes and books have reminded me how exciting learning is and what an amazing opportunity studying abroad will be for pushing my intellectual comfort zone while discussing Moroccan history and reading North African literature.

Over the last week, it has snowed twice and I have looked at my plane ticket no less than three times. Each time the Delta website greets me with two countdowns—one for my arrival to Rabat and one for my departure. The concrete numbers say it all—I have exactly 106 days abroad. At first, the number seems dauntless, but lately, it does not seem to be enough time to learn how to successfully barter or to explore the myriad of Morocco’s beautiful cities. However, I do know, 106 days is enough time to settle into new routines, to read dozens of books, and form life-long friendships. I also know, 106 days is just enough time for the snow to melt and the flowers to bloom back home.

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Kate Lusignan

<p>Hi, I'm a junior at Bowdoin College located in Brunswick, Maine where I study English and Gender &amp; Women's studies. When I am not reading for class, I am writing for the Bowdoin Orient, the College's newspaper. This semester, I am so excited to explore the Medina and try new cuisine.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
Bowdoin College
Hermon, ME
Gender Studies
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