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Ruminations from Rabat: Ending on a high note

With only a week left in Morocco, my mind is scrambled with a million thoughts and feelings. Though I should be stressing about finals, I can’t help but stress about how to best end this amazing semester.                                                

I’m conflicted — I want to fill this week with more core memories of my time in Morocco. I want to have a hundred new experiences and check off everything on my bucket list before I leave, but I try to remind myself of a conversation I had with my friend last semester while I was studying in Paris.                                                

At the time, I was worried about not having enough exciting experiences abroad to look back on. I felt like when I talked to other people about their time abroad, they would always reminisce about the crazy, spontaneous things that they did. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to amplify this kind of excitement in my life.                                                

When I talked to my friend about my worries, she reminded me that the reason to study abroad is not for these crazy, grand experiences but actually to experience normalcy. When I look back at my time abroad, I’ll miss the little moments and parts of my daily routine that I built from scratch. Turning novelty and uncertainty into comfort and ease is, after all, the true beauty of studying abroad.                                                

When I first got here I was not only in a new country, but a new continent. I spoke French but virtually no Arabic. I didn’t know anyone else who had ever studied abroad in Morocco, so I knew very little of what to expect. On top of all of this, people kept telling me how difficult it would be to adjust to Morocco as an American foreigner, which made me feel even more isolated.

But now, after four months which felt a lot more like four weeks, I have a routine.                

Every morning, I do the New York Times Mini crossword over coffee and msemmen with my roommate. After the gym I get a juice at a stand in the mall where I converse with the cashier in Darija while I wait for my order, and most nights my friends and I get tea at a cafe near my house — a tradition we started during Ramadan but have carried on since it ended. These little moments in my routine are representative of the comfort that I created for myself in an otherwise new and daunting environment.                                                

So in the midst of finishing my exams, checking off all the items on my ‘Everything I want to do before I leave Morocco’ list and squeezing in a quick trip to Marrakech this weekend, I need also to revel in this luxury of comfort that I didn’t previously have, for it is exactly what I’ll miss when I leave.                                                

For anyone else grappling with ending their semester abroad, please take this rumination as advice and celebrate the normalcy you’ve created yourself while abroad.