Reflections on Rabat: A Year LaterRabat, Fall 2010
I struggled a long time with the concept of summarizing my time abroad. How could I avoid creating a huge blanket list of everything that I miss and everything that’s changed me, yet still give a genuine portrayal about the impact it’s had on my life? Nothing is cheesier than a couple pages of “how my study abroad experience changed me”. And believe me, I know because I just re-read the first draft of my “how my study abroad experience changed me” post and the cheese in it was enough to feed a large Moroccan family mac n’ cheese for days. The task of summing up how those three little months in a country whose greatest economic assets are phosphorous, tourism, and being more peaceful than its neighboring countries is intimidating. Rather like the task of capturing the beauty of a sunset with ink and paper; I just don’t think it can be done. The actual sunset will never be as breathtaking on paper. Isolated, & away from it’s natural setting, the sunset on paper looks cheesy, unnatural, and more than a little out of place.
That said, ideas for the post broiled and bubbled in the back of my mind as I spent my day at work (reorganizing data spreadsheets and making copies, if you wanted to know). Could I write about how life in Morocco showed me the world outside of my bubble? Or maybe I should write something about the good friends I met, and the good people who helped me along my way in a foreign country…I’ve forgotten a lot about daily life in the Maghrib, though it’s only been a year. I have pictures, and memories, but I don’t revisit them all the time. The experience of traveling alone, the experience of leaving your home to go to an unknown, the experience of being the outsider, though, those things that the photos don’t capture, are the moments that I’m the most grateful for.
I don’t know what I’m going to do with my future. I don’t know how exactly the experience of study abroad will factor into my career goals/ grad school dreams. I won’t be going back to Morocco soon, to teach or to do research, like so many of us talked about doing back then. Eventually, after I’ve decided things about my future, that is my Future capital F, I’ll make my way back to the country that taught me so much, perhaps with a couple of old friends, and call up the teachers and staff that made my stay so rewarding. I will say this- learning to be flexible in less-than-ideal circumstances and smiling through it all; that is one of the things that will go with me. Learning that fears that reside within your own mind are really not all that bad; that is one of the things that will go with me. These, I think, are things I would have been hard-pressed to find if I had only lived in California all my life. And, profound, life-changing experiences aside, I can say that I learned how to make damn good couscous.
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