Even though I am far from home, I feel the most at home.
After months of planning and preparing to study abroad, I am finally here and I am learning that there was absolutely nothing that could have prepared me for this moment.
This will be my third time to Morocco and I was still just as nervous as my first time here. In the midst of learning a new language and navigating around a new city, I feel so lost but so at home. It has been a complete whirlwind and I am only in my first few days of the next four months.
In these days, I have already moved into my new room which is decorated with lanterns, rugs, and a sparkly blanket and it looks like the inside of a genie's bottle. I have spent time with my host family learning Darija and eating more food than I ever have. I walked in a million circles taking different streets around my new home city. I went to the Hammam with my new sister.
I have been so mentally exhausted that there are no words. Even when I am sitting at home, there are so many new words and phrases to learn and so much translating that my mind is constantly working.
When I leave to walk around or grab a taxi, there are so many new sights and people to see that my mind is still going. Then at night, when everything is quiet and everyone is asleep, I stay up trying to process that this is my reality.
I knew that the best way to learn a language was to be immersed in it, but I never thought I would learn a new language in four months. Between my exhaustion and lack of confidence, I still have learned so much in the past few days that I understand the immersion. Now when I call home, I am still saying things in Darija and laughing at myself for it.
I forget that I am American. I feel more like a Moroccan who doesn't know the language.
I have gone to the Souk to help sell oranges. I have helped little boys return a lost puppy to her mom. I have learned how to play soccer from young kids who are far better than I am.
I went with friends to buy food for families in need. I learned to do a Hijab properly. I also have been to so many areas that have never seen an American before which basically makes me a celebrity.
Now, I am playing Jenga with my family and getting ready to eat Harira and celebrate my sister's birthday.
I cannot believe this is my new life and I wish that time would slow down so that I could enjoy every last second here.