This is my final blog post, serving as a reflection on my adventure in Morocco and in learning Arabic.
My time in Morocco comes to an end on Saturday morning, and I just completed my Arabic final three hours ago.
Studying abroad has been life-altering. My worldview, which just three months ago was limited to North Carolina and the snippets of information I would read online, has greatly expanded.
Back home, I don’t get a rush of adrenaline from crossing the street. Here in Morocco, I’ve been crossing the street only to see oncoming traffic speed up towards me (they brake before they hit me or I make it to the sidewalk first).
Back home, people usually don’t starve to death. Here in Morocco, a stampede of impoverished people rushing to get free food occurred in a village outside of Essaouira just a week after I left that touristy city; 17 people were killed.
Back home, I know homeless people from the soup kitchen I volunteer at, and no where else. Here in Morocco, I see homeless people begging daily. The most heartbreaking image I can recall is one of a thin mother with two small children, a girl no older than 7 and her younger brother, nestled up together on the sidewalk under a small baby-blue blanket one chilly afternoon.
Back home, I rarely witness sexual harassment. Here in Morocco, it is an accepted fact of life that you will witness daily, or in the unfortunate case of some of my female friends, experience (although I’ve heard it doesn’t happen nearly as often in bigger cities like Rabat and Tangier; here in Meknes it’s cancerous).
Back home, people lighting themselves on fire in protest is limited to anecdotal news articles about third-world countries. Here in Morocco, a man set himself on fire right beside my study center (where there is a court house) during my Arabic class.
Despite these flawed aspects of the country, I have still fallen in love with it. The people here are incredibly nice, I’ve been able to haggle over prices, and it is infinitely easier and cheaper to travel across Morocco than it is to travel across America. The beaches are great, the mountains are great, the Sahara is great, and the food is great. Before I die, I will definitely come to Morocco again.
Case in point re: geography.
My Arabic studies have been advancing well. With the completion of my final and impending knowledge of my passable grade, I will have finished a year’s worth of academic Arabic credit in just three months. I’ve accomplished learning the Arabic alphabet, reading and pronouncing Arabic, learning vocabulary, learning basic sentence structure, learning numbers, and learning various grammatical rules including the MasDar, the dual, the fronted predicate, and others.
The Arabic alphabet is a bit more complicated than that. Depending on where in a word the letter appears, the letter takes a new shape. That’s why learning to read and write is a nice achievement. It’s certainly going to be strange being back in the States, where signs are in English instead of Arabic (or French).
I’ve found I love the challenge of Arabic, and my semester studying it has certainly inspired me to continue my studies until fluency. From my experiences abroad, I have discovered I want to stay abroad, and thus I am hoping to study for an academic year in Jordan. I expect Jordan to be more culturally different than Morocco, where France exerts abundant cultural influence. In addition to the Modern Standard Arabic I’ve been learning, the Jordanian programs I’ve been looking into offer Levantine Arabic, the dialect I most want to learn.
I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye to Morocco. I’ve had some of the best memories of my life here, and it’s almost depressing to go home where life is more predictable and the experiences less exhilarating. I have to say goodbye to my friends and the family I’ve been living with, and of course I have a long flight back to my home city. But all good things come to an end, and thus I’m left waving goodbye to my home for the last three months and looking forward to my home for the next year.
Ma’a Assalama, Morocco.