It feels good to be home. Although studying for a semester in Morocco was perhaps one of the best experiences of my life so far, I can’t deny the comforts of being back in Colorado. Seeing friends again, talking face-to-face with people who I had not seen for months, and just being around familiar streets make me value my home and relationships much more. Interestingly enough, Morocco means home now as well.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to try and compartmentalize and synthesize all the experiences I had in Rabat and the rest of Morocco. The excursion with the AMIDEAST cohort to Zawiyat Ahansal tends to stand out in my memory. Spending a weekend in an remote village in the Atlas Mountains is something I’ll cherish forever. It seems crazy to think about how different the lives of the individuals living in that village are than my own.
I also think about my own trip to the Atlas Mountains to climb Jebel Toubkal. Staying in the refuge, almost getting lost, and a harrowing taxi ride back to Marrakech fill the ears of anybody willing to listen. After seeing some of my friends, I sometimes feel compelled to bring up these stories in the hopes that I create at least a genuine interest inside them for Morocco. It would be an injustice to not tell people about such great people and places.
Another component of the study abroad experience that I find hard to not talk about is my host-family. All the good food I ate, the conversations that were had over hot tea, and countless shenanigans with the host-brother cannot be traded for anything. The look on my friends’ faces when I tell them about the naming ceremony and slaughtering the sheep are priceless. Conversely, it’s nice to eat bacon again.
Since I have only been home for about two days, reverse culture shock has not hit me yet. I am a little nervous to establish a new routine. It’s going to require a concerted effort on my part to readjust to the fast paced lifestyle of the United States after the more laid back and less structured routine I had in Rabat. I plan on adopting and incorporating some of the things I did differently in Morocco to my daily routine in the U.S. For example, I benefited greatly from eating dinner later at night. It provided me more time to get things done during the day in such a way that I sometimes felt more time efficient abroad than at home.
Using Arabic everyday is another huge part of my study abroad experience that I will miss. I became much better at conversing and using my language to get around and take care of myself. This was one of the more empowering features of my time abroad. Now that I’m home, I plan on maintaining a certain level of proficiency in the language and expanding my expertise in others.
Perhaps the most important thing that going abroad has taught me is how vital my education is to me. I have not felt this empowered about my degree at any point in my undergraduate time until now. Going to Morocco with a group of students who care about international affairs and relations has helped me become excited for what the future has in store for me. Living and studying abroad has given me much more confidence in myself professionally and I cannot wait to start making a difference after college.