How has Morocco changed me?

I know for a fact that I am a much different person now than when I left Fargo last September. I remember somebody asking me around December how I’d changed, and for some reason I became very annoyed. I think I was having a rough week, and I didn’t want to accept that Morocco had changed me. I don’t think I *wanted* to change, or maybe I wasn’t ready to realize that I had.

Looking back on the past 7 months, I can see how much I’ve grown. I look back to October and cringe at how naïve and childish I seemed. Even since last month, I’ve grown up and matured. And I’m still growing, and hope that I will continue to throughout my life! I used to think that you mature in high school, and then you somehow reach your final adult form and that’s it… I now find it funny that I even thought that. Here’s how I think Morocco has changed me:

Independence:

I have always been an independent person, but I also relied on my parents for a lot of things (as all high schoolers do). Since coming here, although I do live with a host family and have a lot of in-country support, I have gained a great deal of independence. I can go out and do what needs to be done by myself, and I think this is a realization that will help me a lot in college as well.

How I Think About Home: 

I’m thinking about writing an entire blog post about this, because it’s a big one. Before Morocco, I thought that home could truly only ever be where my biological family, aka Fargo. However, Morocco has a very welcoming culture and a lot of people here have changed the way that I think about home. I think that home is a feeling. It’s when you are completely relaxed and comfortable and surrounded by people who know you better than you know yourself.

Fear:

I am generally a fearful person, I would say. I tend to let that get in the way of things. I think my mom has been trying to push me out of my comfort zone for years, but I never really have until this year. At the beginning, I was too scared to go out and explore alone, or sit in a cafe by myself, or initiate conversations with Moroccans. Sure, things like that still aren’t easy for me, but I do it. I’m less scared of just putting myself out there. This goes hand-in-hand with the independence thing, I’m able to just get things done and not overthink every little detail. I have grown less fearful emotionally as well, because exchange can be such an emotionally taxing ordeal. I used to be HORRIFIED of discussing my emotions and being vulnerable. It has gotten much easier to talk about feelings though because I’ve found that opening up is a generally positive experience. A lot of us go through similar things, and we can help each other through a lot. The emotional aspect was definitely the hardest but I think it is also where I have grown the most.

Problem-solving:

There’s no better way to improve your problem-solving skills than going to a country you know nothing about, where they speak a language you don’t know, and being completely and utterly out of your comfort zone. One time, I was sick and took a taxi home from my school. I wasn’t paying attention, and didn’t check my wallet to make sure that I had money. I also didn’t say where I wanted to go in a clear voice, so I ended up in the wrong place, explaining my mistake in broken Arabic, having the driver finally drive me to my house, and THEN realizing that I didn’t have any money. I felt stupid, overwhelmed, and wanted to just crawl under a rock. The thing is, you can’t just shut down in situations like that because this is life! I figured it out, and everything ended up being fine. I think that I’ve definitely got better at just dealing with things.

Go-With-The-Flow:

I love having structure in my life, but I think that living here has really made me more go-with-the-flow. Things here tend to be more last minute, which used to really irk me. Now, I kinda enjoy not having my plans planned down to the minute. I can really enjoy where I am in the moment, without stressing about where I’m going to be in an hour. A little rule that I have for myself is to write everything in my planner in pencil, because it likely will change (and that’s okay).

Laughing at myself: 

I hate making a fool of myself…. who doesn’t? But since coming here, I’ve HAD to laugh at myself, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to live. Sure, a lot of people chuckle when I speak broken Arabic to them. Especially because I really only speak fusHa and it sounds stilted and weird. But that’s okay! That’s how I get better at speaking. Also,  a lot of the mistakes that I make are frankly quite funny. I may as well have a good laugh!

Thank you so much for reading this post!!!

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