“Adventures in my “Hometown'” by Shante Fencl

As a young college student, one of the most exciting moments of my semester should be Spring Break, right? The only options for this long week of vacation should be traveling the cities of the world, or relaxing on a gorgeous beach? Wrong. I have spent this lovely week chasing my baby sister around our apartment, catching up on class work, and finding hidden gems in my adopted hometown of Rabat. This may not seem like the typical, picturesque vacation you would expect from a girl on her semester abroad, but you must first learn how this week of repose became one of the best weeks of my time abroad.

After a series of unfortunate events ruined my plans to travel to Madrid for the break, I decided not to make any new plans; instead, I waited to see what adventures would come my way. In the beginning, I caught up on some much needed sleep, finally took care of all my laundry, and even started my Arabic essay. On the third day of my vacation, I woke up to find my host mom scrambling around the house and calling all of her friends looking for a babysitter. I knew she had a doctor’s appointment that morning, and volunteered immediately to watch my one year old host sister, Raadia. A few hours alone with a baby can’t be that difficult, can it?

Raadia and I - Post 6 - Shante Fencl

My adorable baby sister, Raadia, and me posing for a selfie.

By the end of my host mother’s appointment, I learned why she is always so tired. I almost had a heart attack every minute Raadia escaped my sight. Normal everyday objects that I see around the house quickly started to look like dangerous weapons my baby sister could use to hurt herself. She found almost every bobby pin on my bedroom floor and attempted to eat each one of them. She hit me in the head with remotes, phones, and every other solid object she could find. By the time I got her to take a nap, I needed one too! The best part of that day with Raadia was that I really felt like I was watching my own sister. I finally became a part of the family. I finally felt like I was home.

Later on in the week, I got to spend time in Rabat with my Moroccan friends. We went to places that I never visited that were less than 10 minutes from my front door. I got to experience my city from a new perspective. I walked through the medina at night and saw it truly come to life. I took the city bus to a new side of town. I even learned how to play pool (even though I wouldn’t say I am good at it)! What’s most important is that I finally exited my bubble of an exchange student’s life. I didn’t think about planning a weekend trip, seeing monuments, or visiting a new city. I just lived. That’s what made this Spring Break so great: it was the first week of my exchange that I just lived.

Now that the break is coming to a close, I feel prepared to continue on with my semester. I will still plan weekend trips. I will still do some touristy things. But at least I know now that sometimes it’s okay to not travel. Sometimes you just need to spend your day living.

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Filed under Area & Arabic Language Studies, Morocco, Rabat, Shante Fencl

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