Morocco Has My Heart

I’m sitting in my desk right now, watching the light slowly fade from the sky. Yet another day has ended and I feel like I am stuck in a bizarre, surreal state of mind. I have never felt this many mixed emotions at one time. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that this is all coming to an end, no matter how hard I try. Today was my last day of Arabic class. As I am posting this, I have basically one week left. I don’t understand where the time went. It’s warm out now and it kinda feels like the beginning again, like everything has come full circle. Honestly, I feel like the past 8.5 months never even happened.

I love Morocco. There were points during the year when I would have ecstatically talked about how much I loved it, and other points where I would have told you that I hated it. I think that that’s completely normal because adjusting to a whole new life is hard. Looking back, I think that my real low point was between mid-December to the beginning of February. The holidays were really hard, and it was also really cold. Low points aside, there is so much love in my heart for this country. I remember one night in November when we were in Chefchaouen, I had had a really bad day. I just couldn’t see myself possibly being able to live here until May, and I thought I had made the wrong decision. After all, college would have been so much easier to adjust too. I remember sitting with my friend Sarah on the couch in our hotel room and just bawling my eyes out. I was just so overwhelmed. Sarah, who had lived in France for a year, told me something that has really stuck with me throughout the past 6 months. She told me that there were points in her exchange where she felt exactly like I was feeling in that moment, but at the end it was a “net positive” experience. Just thinking about how Morocco would likely be a net positive experience for me got me through a lot of times when I had doubt or didn’t think I could do it.

And guess what? Sarah was really, really right. Looking back, all of the bad days I had seem so small and trivial compared to all of the AMAZING days that I have had. I have experienced so much, seen so many new places, met so many new people, and learned so much. I went from no Arabic experience to being able to watch the news and understand over 50% on a good night (that’s good!) I made amazing friends that I hope to keep in touch with forever. I changed and grew and learned so much about myself. There are so many lessons and memories that I will take with me throughout the rest of my life.

I remember the first day that I felt like I was truly part of a family here. Meliha and I decided to make grilled cheese and tomato soup for our host family and we went grocery shopping with our host mom. We made a pit-stop to buy pastries, and ended up eating them ALL. Meliha and I spent the entire evening cooking, and we all ate together as a family.

I remember one night, about two weeks before Meliha moved out. I left our room around 10pm to use the bathroom before bed and when I came back to our room, THE DOOR WOULDN’T OPEN. I got my host mom, but nothing we did worked. Meliha was stuck inside while I was stuck outside. We tried and tried to open it but eventually we had to call Asmae’s friend from the shop. He was a very tall and skinny man, and I have vivid memories of him throwing his body into the door until it broke in. I have never laughed harder.

I remember on our first excursion when we stayed with host families in Ain Cheggag. My host family only had a squat toilet. I was terrified and had never used one before. Turns out, I like them better than Western toilets!

I remember Christmas, possibly the hardest day of my exchange. I celebrated with friends but went home after lunch. I turned out all of my lights and sat in the dark listening the Mariah Carey Christmas music and crying. I called my family, and realized that it would all be okay. After all, Christmas comes every year!

I remember getting bronchitis, that was by far the sickest I have ever been in my life. I came home one day at 3, put on 2 sweaters and 3 pairs of pants and proceeded to fall asleep on my floor until 9 pm when I woke up sweating, coughing, and more disoriented than I have ever been. I coughed up green phlegm for two months.

I remember climbing up a mountain near Sidi Ifni to see fog nets, which was a three hour ordeal. My knee kept me from being able to walk back down, so I rode with the director of the organization in the Jeep. That was quite possibly the most terrifying car ride of my life (down the side of the mountain on very narrow roads), but she gave me an amazing pep talk. She told me about her daughter, who’s anxiety sounds very similar to mine. She reminded me that facing my fears is good.

I remember in Essaouira when I saw a cat get hit by a car, and I cried for an hour.

I remember meeting with my friend Hind at the cafe attached the the art museum. We drank amazing hot chocolate and I told her about all of the crazy things that had been happening in my host family (in Arabic).

I remember being in Tangier, caught in the middle of a downpour with Meliha and Eman. We were leaving the next morning, but I was just so sick of my wet converse that I bought a pair of rainboots from a fishing shop. I have never seen a man look so confused, because he didn’t know why we wanted to buy fishing boots. He was so kind though, and my feet were thankful for the dryness.

I remember my capstone-freak out, probably one of the biggest panic attacks I’ve ever had. Sitting on the floor of the Amideast classroom, I really thought a lot about what I am capable of, and what it means to succeed.

I remember our last night in Meski, when we had a big party. At the last minute, we were whisked away by our host mom and dressed in beautiful caftans and hijabs. Our host dad told us that we would make good Muslims, and Maria almost accidentally converted before I stopped her. That night was so memorable.

I remember being really bored with Hunter one day and not being able to think of anything to do. We ending up going to the store, buying ramen, and eating it on his roof.

I have so many memories. These are some of my favorites, but I could keep writing all night. I’m so thankful for this experience. I would not change a thing. Again, I feel so surreal and weird right now, I can’t believe I’m leaving. Thank you for reading, and thank you Morocco for everything.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Grandpa and Grandma Turley says:

    I just finished reading your post, g’daughter. I am so proud of you and love you SO much. It’s obviously how much you have changed and grown from your experience in Moracco. You are truly an exceptional young woman! Love, G’mama

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lillian Cox says:

      I love and miss you guys! ♥️

      Like

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