I have now been abroad in Morocco for over a month. Some days have been absolutely amazing, while some days I struggle with adapting to the culture. Some days I miss the comfort of home and some days I swear I will never go home and live here forever.
Whether I have a good or bad day, I still love every second I have here in Morocco.
In the past few weeks, I have been eating too much and sleeping too little. My class schedule is so crazy and the number of readings I have each night is even crazier. I am also serving in a women's cooperative at least two days a week.
I am behind on videos I wanted to do for myself as well as articles, research and self-care. Although it is all super exhausting, I look forward to all of my classes and service days and am thankful every day to wake up in Morocco.
I traveled to new cities with my host family which really touched my heart. We visited Marrakesh and Essouria. We would stop on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and my host dad would go talk to the butcher to get the best meat. My host mom would go find the best bread. Then we took everything to a man with a grill and he cooked the meat for us and made Kefta with tomatoes and onions. We then had someone else who made tea. This entire feast for four people with leftovers cost the equivalent of $18 USD. The entire experience was priceless.
I met the other students who are studying abroad with my program and began to make friends. In our first few weeks, we have celebrated birthdays, laughed, danced and cried together.
I spent my first few weeks here sitting in silence while my friends spoke in Darija, and so not only was I happy to be able to speak English, but I was so happy to have people with me who were facing the same struggles I was hiding. Before Morocco, I had never gotten a taxi myself and now I had to get one myself in a different language.
Some days I even have to take two taxis just to get to school. This is my third time to Morocco and I was still struggling to adapt to the culture and face my anxiety about getting around a new city. It meant so much to be reminded that I am not the only one feeling lost.
I have been studying Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and wow. I have spent so many hours with my nose in a book and even more discussing my thoughts and asking so many questions. I have never been able to have my Bible as a textbook which has been very good for me. I didn't grow up in Sunday school, so now at 20 years old, I am in an Islamic country studying more about the Bible than I ever did before. Life is so crazy.
Oh! I cannot forget to rave about my professors! My French professor has the best energy which is extremely helpful when I have five hours of French starting at 8 a.m. If we start to fall asleep in class, he will have a big dance party with us or even demonstrate his ballet moves and jumps for us.
My religions professor is the kindest man I know. In such a controversial class, he is able to remain unbiased and teach us new topics without leading us to believe a certain way. It is completely factual and allows us to learn before forming our own opinion.
Then we have my gender studies professor, who's class makes my blood boil. We discuss the most controversial topics regarding women in Morocco and our conversations last long after the class is over. When I add everything I am learning in each class with my homestay experience and travels around Morocco, I feel as if I could live here my entire life and always learn new things.
The choice to study abroad was the easiest part of this entire experience. Studying in a country for four months is the biggest challenge I have faced. I thought I knew what to expect and every day I am surprised, humbled, and challenged.
Some days are beautiful and filled with color and joy. Other days I feel like I am chained down and caged in and there is no way to breathe. I have this feeling that even though I have changed every aspect of my life to try to fit Moroccan standards, I will never feel like I fit in or belong here.
I don't regret a single second I have had in Morocco. I wouldn't change anything. Every experience has been priceless and I will carry these memories with me for the rest of my life. But at what cost?
If I mold myself to fit the culture, part of me feels happy but part of myself deep inside feels lost and broken. If I try to be myself, I am wrong, flawed, and unaccepting of Moroccan culture.
So, I am torn into too many pieces to count, scattered into the wind, waiting to be found and put back together again.