Reflections from HomeRabat, Spring 2012

It’s bizarre to be opening up my blog in the comfort of my Minneapolis apartment, cat on my lap and work scheduled in a few hours. Everything about that list should be normal but my brain still hasn’t figured out why I’m not in my little Moroccan room, host sister singing in the background and the medina streets alive behind my front door.

I’ve been home for about a week and a half now and haven’t stopped moving since the second I landed. I was surprised by how little I was affected by any initial culture shock. Upon getting to the US, I was mostly just excited… excited for friends, family, my girlfriend, Chipotle… Especially Chipotle. My first day back, everyone asked if everything looked weird, on that first day though it all just felt like home and now it seems that things have been getting weirder as time passes. It almost feels like waking up from a dream, every day I’m reminded of something from Morocco and it’s so hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, that was my reality. Now, thousands of miles away, I’m scrambling to fit together the pieces of that 4 month long dream and what they mean for my future and life back in the US.

Looking back, my very last day was hysterically Moroccan in the best and worst ways. After shedding some tears and hugging the host family goodbye one last time, myself and another IES friend were off to the airport with an adorably chatty cab driver where we worked extremely hard to utilize every last ounce of our Darija skills. Showing up to the airport the standard 2 hours early was a novice mistake, the AirFrance workers showed up to check us in around the same time that we were supposed to be boarding and along that line, our plane came strolling on in about 2 hours after our scheduled departure time, no delayed notices, nobody around us looking at all concerned, everybody just taking their time. While waiting for our plane, we relaxed at the airport café where we greeted the barista with a hearty “Salaam Alaikum!” knowing that we probably wouldn’t be able to do that for quite some time. The sheer joy on his face that us two very white girls were speaking broken but semi-proficient Darija seemed to light up his whole afternoon as he went on to tell us the Darija words for everything on the menu. His last few pieces of conversation were what left me with a smile though, as something that had happened a handful of times during my time abroad and had conjured up in me different reactions of frustration, amusement and just plain interest. His response though was a genuine one and a sweet ending to some of the occurrences and new understandings we had picked up in our new Moroccan home. After learning that we were American and had stayed with Moroccan families for months, he paused and looked at us with curiosity… “Are you Muslim?” he asked. We smiled but shook our heads no, leaving him to think about our answer for a second, moments later, a huge smile spread across his face, “One day, Insha’Allah” he said with certainty. “Insha’Allah”, we responded, just shrugging and smiling at each other. With a big smile we said goodbye, heading off in the direction of home; with a funny ending, loads of memories and certainty that we would be returning to our Moroccan home someday, insha’Allah.

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