I had a pretty rosy picture of life abroad before I came here. And for the first few weeks, my experiences met and even surpassed my exceptions. I have traveled, my new home is large and modern, I have made great friends with the other students, and of course, I am surrounded by this intense and beautiful country.
Unlike most college students, I am used to moving and living in new environments – I have lived in 4 states in the past three years prior to studying abroad. And so, I thought this experience would be very easy for me, especially because I have the wonderful support of the ISA staff.
I have now spent almost two full months in my host country, and I have officially hit the middle point of my study abroad experience – it feels kind of like a vacation that has lasted too long, or like a forced relocation that I wasn’t quite prepared for..
The strange and intense culture shock that I had so looked forward to before coming is now becoming the daily challenge. I am realizing how dependent I am on American culture norms. Little things like the concept of a Barnes and Noble is so tragically funny to reminisce on as I walk past the male dominated cafes from which I can never receive a wifi signal anyways. Feeling sick suddenly becomes a big deal when I can’t see a doctor without the assistance of a local.
Through these challenges, I am learning about my own vulnerability and areas in need of growth. Someone famous once said that it is neither the beginning nor end that is the hardest, but the middle. Though I have reached this point, I still find joy in my host country. I have received amazing kindness from both Americans and Moroccans while here, and the beauty consistently my favorite feature of Morocco.
في الحقيقة (fi alhqiiqa) means in reality in Arabic. I’m realizing the reality of being an American studying abroad in Morocco – for me, right now, it isn’t quite as sweet as the traditional mint tea, or the dreams I had before I got on the plane.