Morocco is beautiful as I fly out of Casablanca, the remnants of the sun casting a silver lining on the low hanging clouds, the sky the colour of light blue meeting fading gold.
One of my friends told me a couple of years ago that studying abroad would change me less than it would most because I’d already “found” myself and already had a strong sense of self. I’ve been thinking about that in the past week or so as fellow students abroad begin gushing about how they’re entirely different people, how they’ve “found” themselves, because I feel like I’m still the same me. Perhaps a little more confident, and perhaps a little less caring; I’m a tad more apathetic.
I love this country, and I highly recommend coming here. There have been some points where I’ve wished I was in Hungary as I’d originally planned because of the proximity to the rest of Europe; however, overall I’m definitely glad. From Beni-Mellal and its Utah-esque landscape to the unreal dunes of the Sahara Desert, this is one extraordinary country. And aside from the hasslers in the touristy areas on the streets, the people are so kind and so welcoming–from taxi drivers buying me fruit to a lady in airport security inviting me home, I’m constantly overwhelmed with their generosity. Heaving my heavy suitcase to Casa was no problem as at every instance, someone was lifting it for me. My limited Darija has made me many friends, and just like in Iran, I’ve found that showing an interest in their culture and their lives will really bring out intriguing stories and enthusiasm.
On defining home
I’ve just planned to spend a week in New Zealand before my summer contract starts, and it’s amazing how innately I think of NZ as going home. San Francisco probably shaped me more, honestly, but it’s going to my parents’ house. New Zealand is home. Perhaps more so than even Yellowstone. I think Yellowstoners will always be my people, but New Zealand is my country.
On the people
This semester was interesting socially. A blowup halfway through the semester really forced me to examine not only myself but the people with whom I’d been surrounding myself. I read once somewhere that one is generally a combination or average of the five people with whom they spend the most time, and while I don’t entirely agree, I’ve come to realise that I am a much more positive person when I spend my time with other positive people. If anything, I’ve come to value communication even more (if that’s possible) but also I’ve realised that letting people go is sometimes better than the drama of keeping them. Still, I’ve met very special people from Morocco and am still in touch with friends from Dubai. Randomly, the friend I’ve become and remained closest with is the one I met at a hostel in Barcelona–life is sporadic that way. I’ve also come to appreciate certain friends from before even more than I already did–shout out to those who answer my 4AM calls (thanks time zones!), continue to read my long emotional rants, and video chat with me every now and then. This semester taught me that I think too highly of some people; however, there are some that I can never praise enough.
On the food
My life will not be as happy without mint tea all the time. I’ll miss msemen, hot and fresh and doughy, and I’ll miss tagine. Mostly, I’ll miss the communal aspect of food. In the US, one orders a dish each. Here, one orders everything to be shared. I also will never have my table manners back, and will forever be eating with one fork and one hand. Some of the most delicious meals I ever had were at the bottom of the waterfall at Ain Ifrane after a half hour or so walk, cooked fresh outside in the middle of a park.
This has really driven home that in a year’s time–or a semester, if I’m sick of school and want to graduate early–I need to make a decision. I can go for a big kid job, or I can go to my parks and I can work in stunning places abroad at the risk of not getting a big kid job later. I’m not looking forward to that decision. I want to do something I love that’s productive for society, but I don’t want to live in a box. I want to live in all of the world, but I don’t want to work retail my entire life. We’ll see.
B’salama Morocco habibi, zwiina Maghrib, you’ve been a fantastic ride, and I’ll treasure your memories fondly.