My time in Morocco is winding down (too, too fast!) and I’m trying to find ways to appreciate all of the moments I have left here. Sometimes appreciating the present moment can be really hard, especially when you’re stressed about writing papers, figuring out your summer plans, or physically not feeling well. Then you feel even more stressed because all those moments that you weren’t appreciating have passed and you have even fewer left! I don’t know about you but sometimes it makes me want to just hole up in my room, watch Netflix, and sleep.
For me, some of that stress comes from a phrase that I find very unhelpful: “live in the moment.”
Time moves so fast that it’s impossible to “live in the moment” without looking back at the past or forward at what’s to come. And to me this saying implies that when you’re not enjoying every moment or if you are thinking about anything else than the moment is wasted. I disagree. Appreciating moments is about appreciating them as part of an experience and that experience is multi-faceted and continuous. So I’m trying not to stress about the quick passage of time but appreciate the time I have left and engage with the experiences that are available to me.
Here are three things I am working on to help me appreciate the moment and make the most of my last few weeks in Morocco:
Do the things you keep saying you want to do.
I’m the kind of person who talks about doing things and thinks about doing things and then never actually takes concrete action to do them. When I get into this mode I have to push myself to take a step and just go for it. The reminder of time limits is actually helpful with this one, because it offers impetus for me to stop talking and start doing. One weekend I was staying in Rabat and had no plans. I had been talking about wanting to go surfing for a while so I decided that since I didn’t know how many more weekends I would be home in Rabat, that that would be the weekend to try it out. I messaged my friend to help me set up a surf lesson and that was that. The day of, I had doubts – I was tired, I didn’t feel like going, I was definitely a little nervous about being cold and wet and not having fun. But I went and it ended up being one of the most fun experiences I’ve had. Now if I’m thinking about doing something but hesitate I think of that experience and remind myself that I just have to go for it and appreciate the experience for whatever it is.
Try not to worry so much. When you’re not dealing directly with something that bothers you, don’t let it get to you. Let yourself focus on what’s in front of you.
I’m a worrier so this one is hard for me, but studying abroad has definitely improved my ability to compartmentalize stress. While being abroad brings stressors of its own, it also doesn’t eliminate already existing stressors of school, future plans, or personal issues. I’ve been trying to learn how to not let a stressor in one area suck up all my attention that all the other areas of my life deserve. One strategy I’ve developed is to just refuse to worry about something when I’m not dealing with it directly and when there is another beautiful or special experience in front of me. Over the past couple weeks we've started preparing for finals and the number of papers I have to write is a little overwhelming. However, I'm not going to let stress about papers interfere with my ability to experience life here - I'll take care of my school work and let it go so that I can continue to appreciate the experiential part of my semester.
Slow down. Take everything half as fast as you usually do.
This one involves a cultural adjustment and examination of my socialized behavior and relationship to time. After 8 months this year in two different countries, I still haven’t been able to kick my American affinity for scheduling time, thinking point A to point B, looking for product. So often I find myself power walking somewhere without bothering to slow down and examine my surroundings or be aware of the people around me. Morocco has a slow-moving culture, and I feel like I move too fast and that sometimes I miss things. So I try to consciously slow myself down, whether it’s my physical walking speed, or my mental focus and appreciation. I don’t just want to do things, I want to experience things. I don’t just want to live in Rabat, I want to soak in the life here.
The activities in this post were undertaken during the student’s free time and were not sponsored by IES Abroad.
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<p>I am a long-time bibliophile, choir nerd, and language lover who isn't really "from" anywhere. The closest thing I have to a hometown is Ambler, Pennsylvania, where I lived throughout middle and high school, but I also lived in England and Egypt as a child, and my parents now live in Connecticut I now go to college in Washington DC!</p>