I got off the plane into the hot, desert heat. The wind was blowing, and at first it didn’t seem all that different, until I really opened my eyes and saw what was in front of me. Nothing was the same as my small town. There were people of all different ethnicities, belonging to all different religions, and speaking all different languages. That’s what fascinated me the most, the languages and the cultures, all coming together to make something unique, yet each so different from the other.
I left New York to go on this trip in order to find something about myself, a passion. I thought that in order to truly find what I was passionate for, I needed to find myself first. For that to happen I couldn’t be around the “old me,” the person I created for myself in the states. At the end I was right about that, and spoiler alert, I found what I was looking for.
One memory that after all this time I can still vividly picture is my first time at my home in Morocco. It was my host dad and I, driving out of the city to Kasbah Oudaya, where I’d be living for the next month. Eventually, we drove through this large, open doorway onto narrow paths surrounded by blue and white. I remember seeing kids playing soccer in the same street where I saw a city worker sweeping up the garbage on the ground with large palm tree leaves. In that moment everything had slowed as people stared at me through the car window, but maybe we just were going slow because it took people awhile to move out of the car’s way. I was shocked by how different everything was, and felt so out of place. It was as if it were all a dream, but it wasn't, and life's pace quickly picked up to it's normal speed. We parked on the side of the street and began to walk through a maze of paths to get to the house. I had no idea where I was or what was going on, and I had no one to ask for help because no one, not even my host dad, spoke English. Our home was a small house, blue and white like the rest of Oudaya, located right on a cliff above the ocean. I was greeting by the rest of my host family, seven people, and was overwhelmed. Not getting a moment to process, they took me right upstairs to have a traditional lunch with the whole family. I sat down not knowing what I was eating, which plate was mine, or how I was supposed to eat. I couldn’t talk to anyone, feeling like an outcast, which was obvious at this point. This family was beyond welcoming though. They instantly tried to teach me Arabic, and have me teach the English as well, so that we could get to know each other as quick as possible. We began a form of charades to communicate which relieved some of the tension and helped to get myself familiarized with the new... well everything. We stayed up all night talking as best we could, and I already was falling in love with this enchanting country, culture, and language.
By the end of the trip I was amazed at my own self-improvement and awe for Morocco. Having to leave is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was so intrigued with language by the time that I left that I knew it was my passion. I’ve gone on to formally study Spanish and French, as well as Portuguese, Hindi, and a continuation of Arabic in my spare time. I also learned that I was more determined than I could have ever imagined. I pushed through some of the most uncomfortable situations and now they seem like such small conflicts to me, as if it wasn’t actually an obstacle at all, just made up in my imagination. With finding my passion, something that I love and am good at, I was able to realize who I am and want to be. Now my future is certainly not set in stone, but I know have a map to help me navigate the rustic terrain ahead.