Far away from Home
March 3, 2016
As I sat on the 10-hour plane ride to Morocco, I kept thinking to myself; how am I going to communicate with people? Am I going to be okay? Will my credits be transferred back to UTEP? Many thoughts ran through my head as I embarked on my journey to a different country. Everyone on the plane kept speaking to me in Arabic and all I could do is communicate with body language, which seemed to help me get by.
As I arrived to Casablanca, Morocco, I kept looking around to see if I could spot an American–and I did! I saw my dear friend, Torika, who was also part of my study abroad program and was on the same flight as I was. I introduced myself to her and we both gave a sign of relief once we met each other. We waited to get our luggage, but unfortunately mine was nowhere to be found. I started to worry because all I was carrying with me at the time was my purse, laptop and a small carry on.
Three days had passed and still no luggage, I had to wear the same clothes for that amount of time, until my study abroad director delivered me the good news that my luggage was at the airport. I took a taxi back to Casablanca along with my classmate to pick up my luggage. The process of obtaining my luggage was so stressful because of the language barrier and it seemed like no one wanted to help us! Until the taxi driver came inside and was kind enough to translate for us, and finally I had my luggage with me!
We made our way back to Meknes, which is a small town in Morocco, and as we did I kept admiring the landscape of the country. It reminded me very much of where my mother grew up, in Durango, Mexico. I kept telling my classmate that this is how some parts of Mexico look like. I kept referring back to my roots with others and I did not realize that I was already missing home.
I arrived at my homestay and I organized my belongings and placed my clothes inside the closet along with my roommate’s. I pulled out a gift that I had purchased back home of a Mexican teapot to give to Magda, my host mother. She was delighted knowing it was from my parent’s home country; she had never hosted a Hispanic student in her home. She kept telling me you’re the first person that I see who is not blonde from America, and she laughed.
As we heard the call to prayer for the very first time, my roommate, Laddie, and I made our way outside the balcony to the dinner table.
About five large different plates of food were placed on the table along with salad, bread and three different kind of drinks. Magda turned on her radio and started dancing to a song, which was a Spanish song! I was so surprised and happy at the same time! Madga was full of energy that day and she quickly sat down with us and asked us to grab a piece of bread and start eating from the same plate. This is a traditional form of eating in Moroccan culture. I could not believe the authentic food I tasted, everything was finger-licking good! I kept taking pictures of all the food! As we were finishing up, our housekeepers brought out whole fruits and yogurt as part of desert to the table. I first thought it was strange that they did not cut the fruit into pieces like I normally would, but it is a cultural thing that they bring out the whole fruit and cut it with a knife.
I immediately felt at home and I wasn’t so homesick. Within that same evening, I noticed that I shared some similar family structures as the Moroccans do. Although I felt comfortable in my new home, I still had some worries about the city, but I knew I was not alone in this journey.