It is with hesitance that I now try to discuss my time abroad and the huge and lasting effect it has on my view of the world and on myself. This much is easy to instantly divulge: I am so grateful for the incredible experience I had in Morocco and I have returned to America as a far more informed, cultured and happy person.
When contemplating my time abroad, certain things definitely stand out to me. First of all, my fantastic host family was definitely a high light of my experience. Sanae, Youniss, Fatima and little Malak have all become a part of my family and I cannot imagine my time in Morocco without them. Endless dinners, discussions and dance parties later, I recall what kind and welcoming people they are. I treasure every memory I have from sharing their cozy apartment and feel so lucky to have had the chance to learn to call it home. Thankfully, they are all very technologically savvy and I’ve been able to chat with them from time to time and we’ve already talked about skyping sometime.
A huge highlight of my time abroad was certainly the language acquisition I obtained in the four months I spent there. Upon arrival in Morocco, I had very set goals to improve the bumbling Arabic I had fostered in just three semesters at Boston University. Between living with hosts, not knowing French, taking three Arabic language courses and interacting with Moroccans everywhere, I found my Arabic improving in leaps and bounds and am proud to say now that my language skills are better than I had ever hoped. My ambitions have even increased and I dream that one day I will have near-perfect fluency in Arabic, instead of just being able to comprehend a lot but express myself in simple terms. So: in a way, Morocco confirmed many things I had questioned about myself in the past, such as my ability to actually learn a foreign language or ability to live abroad for an extended amount of time.
I also feel as though I have a more profound understanding of the differences between countries yet the interconnectedness of the world. This is something everyone can comprehend to an extent, yet now I have a comprehensive piece of the world that I am knowledgeable on and feel as though I can to an extent represent Morocco during my time in America. I’ve tried explaining how study abroad has made me a more confidant, caring, and conscience person but it’s hard because there are no “big moments” that really changed me during my time overseas. Rather, it was the summation of the whole experience that has led me to become a more developed individual.
Friends question me on what I loved the most about Morocco and it is in many ways an impossible question. Between Morocco’s amazing sunsets, it’s endlessly delicious and cheap food, the incredible warmth and kindness I felt from so many Moroccans and new friends, and the extreme love of travel I fostered, it’s hard to sum up the whole experience into one day or moment or hour that was incredible. Reflecting, now after being home for two weeks, it was every piece of the journey that really made it so worthwhile.
We can never be quite sure where our travels will really take us. But now, months from the start, I am so grateful I had the chance to experience this adventure. One important thing that I have learned from this trip is the huge import of getting out into the world if you really want to understand it. Morocco was a magical place to live as a young person and I hope all those with the desire to travel get their chance, and hopefully make it to the country that has grown so close to my heart. As Robert Frost once wrote after a journey, friends would, “not find me changed from him they knew – only more sure of all I thought was true.” This is definitely how I feel for my time abroad. I return home a more confident, happy, and cultured individual. I urge you to undertake your own journey.
For now, it is a comforting thought that Morocco is still out there with its bustling medinas, ancient ruins, scorching deserts, mountainous regions and sun-washed beach towns. As we would often say in Arabic, “Maratiin, Inchallah.” Or “A second time, God Willing.” Till next time, Morocco… I can’t wait for my return.