so i went abroad
A little over three years ago, at accepted students day, I marched right up to a representative from the Center of Off Campus Study and asked them to tell me everything they could about what study abroad as a Colgate student could look like - where could I go, how many semesters could I go, did I have to wait until my junior year, etc. I had always imagined that my university experience would include study abroad and while I was unsure of when and where I wanted to go, I was desperate to start to figure it out - even before my first official day as a Colgate student.
Flash forward to today and I am writing this somewhere in the sky between Morocco and France in the middle seat of an airplane doing everything I can to hold back my tears. My junior spring semester in Morocco has come to a close and while most of my program has boarded flights over the past 12 hours to take them “home”, I can’t help but feel like I am leaving a bit of home behind. There have been plenty of moments this semester that have been far from picture perfect - moments that in all likelihood will be more fully revealed in a coming blog post because I agree that the study abroad experience can be overly-romanticized. But amidst the blemishes, my time in Morocco has been overwhelmingly positive and filled with more love, grace, and connection than I could have ever fully imagined. And though I too have begun my journey home and am excited to return to my family, my pets, and iced coffee, there are people and places attached to Morocco and these past few months that I am leaving behind - at least for now. And I am really going to miss them.
To my host family, though I am unsure if this will ever make it back to you, thank you. I imagine it could not have been easy to open your home to a stranger for two months - let alone a stranger with whom communication is a mix of broken french and an ongoing game of charades. But from the moment I walked through the door you showed me a kind of immediate love I did not realize was possible. At once I felt like a true member of the family and your grace and kindness made Rabat feel more like home.
To my friends - I am going to try my best here but it feels rather impossible to find the right string of words that could properly describe what you all mean to me and the impact your friendship has had on me. As I am sure it is not a surprise to any of you after you spent three straight months listening to me talk non-stop about To Write Love On Her Arms, I am going to borrow a bit from Jamie right now …
“Love is a thousand things, but at the center is a choice. It is a choice to love people … It is a choice to love people. It is a choice to be kind. It is a choice to be patient, to be honest, to live with grace.” - Jamie Tworkowski
This semester you all showed me what it means to completely choose to love someone, what it means to means to choose friendship, choose honesty, and choose grace. This has been a group full of people eager to intentionally seek community - something rare to come by. This has been a group that has made it clear from the start that we can share every part (quite literally) of ourselves with each other. I could not have done this without you all. I do not know that I would go so far as to say that “abroad changed me” but I will say that knowing you and being known by you has left an undeniable and lasting impact on me. From the Sahara, Ceuta, the turkish toilet in the village, Himmi, Agdal, to the CCCL and back, I love you all. Thank you for choosing me.
To Morocco - In all honesty the choice to come to Morocco was probably a pretty random choice. I speak no Arabic and my academic track at Colgate does not necessarily align that closely with the program focus. And even now I do not know that I could give an incredibly eloquent explanation as to why I chose to live my life here for three months. But I can say now with confidence that it was the completely right decision. I feel lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to come and be welcomed into this country and its people and culture. Thank you for having me.