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O Fim duma Viagem

Reverse Culture Shock?

USA | Monday, 4 August 2014 | Views [357]

I don't think I've ever felt either culture shock or its reverse. Without question, there are things that are different between the United States and Morocco, and I've noticed them on both sides of the trip. But it's nothing terribly shocking.

 The language does throw me off. Originally, it was surprising just to hear English being spoken by a majority of people. I adjusted to that, but still found myself wanting to thank waiters in Darija and French, or trying to plan out what I was saying so I could structure it grammatically. I was also able to watch my definition of American re-expand to include people who weren't wearing white tennis shoes, sloganed t-shirts, and cameras or around-the-neck cash/passport holders

 I miss Moroccan food, but I have had cravings for traditional American foods that I was able to satisfy. Pizza, Mac and Chesse, Hamburger, Root Beer... a lot of things I typically only enjoy once in a great while. It's nice to be able to have real pizza again.

 The first full day that I was back in the United States, I walked to the library. It used to feel like a rather long walk. On Monday, it didn't, which tells me more about the length of the walk to the school than I noticed otherwise. Besides that, it was the most peaceful walk I'd taken it two months. I was able to walk across roads instead of making mad dashes to avoid cars. When I did see a car, it would stop because I had right of way. (Embassy RSO: “As a pedestrian, you don't have right of way in Morocco. Even when you do, you don't.”) And for the entire walk, no guys came up to ask me “Ca va?” Or try and show me where their houses were. It was so peaceful.

 And books! So many books in English!

 There were things about Chicago I hadn't realized I missed until I came back. Like rain. And weather fluctuations.

 The first day I was back, my parents and I went for a walk. We had to hurry back because it started raining and none of us had umbrellas. After it had stopped, my father and I went for a another walk. It was noticeably cooler. I was not prepared for that.

 In Rabat, you wake up and go outside, and it's the same temperature it was the day before. And then at noon you go outside again, and it's the same temperature as it was the day before. And then at 4 you head back home. And it's the same temperature as the day before. And you go out after ftour, and it's the same temperature as the day before. And you had back home around 11:30, and it's the same temperature as thee day before. Every. Single. Day.

 Obviously there are things I miss about Morocco. I miss my host family, and all of my friends from the program. I miss the classes and the cats and the stories and history in the streets. I miss how much was within walking distance, and I miss the tea.

 I do not miss smelling fish on my way home every day.

 As I was getting ready for sleep at the end of my first day back, it hit me. I've been gone for seven weeks. I've been in Morocco for seven weeks, learning Darija and Mahgrebien politics and what exactly I am capable of.

 After all of that, it was surprisingly easy to slide back into my “normal” life. To sleep in my bed and wake up in the morning and take a shower that stays the same temperature unless I explicitly adjust the dial, and then to head downstairs and empty the dishwasher and pour myself a cup of coffee and start reading for the day. After seven weeks of trying to find something interesting each day, it's disconcertingly easy to return to a life where the most interesting thing I do is finish a book.

 It's easy, because I know this state is temporary. My plane landed n Chicago a week ago. In another three days, I will be on another plane flying to Scotland. A few days of dullness are an almost necessary buffer.

 Does it feel weird to be back? Yes, because it feels weird that I was ever gone for that long. Seven weeks is a long time. It feels almost surreal to reflect back on where I was a month ago. It's bizarre to be talking to friends or acquaintances and have them learn what I just came from and expect me to be able to summarize my trip in ten words or less. I can't. I can give the bare bones summary of where I was and what I was doing, but I cant begin to tie everything together into a grand unifying statement.

 I spent six weeks in Morocco and one week in Senegal. I learned about politics and literature and immigration. I stayed with a host family while they fed me and celebrated Ramadan. I went to Fes, Meknes, Volubilis, Chefchouen, and even kind of Tangiers. I met salespeople that would make buying a car seem downright relaxing, and I learned enough Moroccan Arabic to hobble my way through a conversation.

 It's a nice checklist. But it's not the important part of the trip. The important part is every story I tell that begins “when I was in Morocco.” It's every time I look at a challenge and tell myself: “you can do this. Remember in Morocco when...” The point of the trip is everything that I took and can apply tot he rest of my life.

 I don't yet know what parts of the trip I'll remember in another year, or another five, or another ten. Time will tell.

 For right now, as much as I loved Rabat and everything I learned and did there, it's nice to be back.

Tags: conclusions, endings, home, recap

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