Saturday, August 31, 2013

Taking the Leap

I'm standing on the end of my dock, on the edge of the lake, staring into its depths. I can't see to the bottom, but I know the sand is waiting for me. I'm bracing for the cold, unable to stroke my pinky toe into the water to test the temperature. The temperature of the water remains a mystery--all I know is that it's very different from the warm air wrapped around me. I glance longingly at the steady dock behind me, wondering if it's even worth it to jump in. But then the breeze whisks the warm frommy shoulders, and I imagine all the lake holds. The swells of the lake will eventually bring me back to the dock again, but in a very different state. In the same way that my smooth fingers will crumple into wrinkled prunes before easing into normality once more, I will adjust to the environment I find in Morocco. Then, a short ten months later, I'll readjust to my home in the States.

Though this metaphor may be wrought with cliches, it speaks for the emotions I'm experiencing during my last day in the United States for quite some time. I cannot imagine what a swim this next journey will be, but I trust that I'm ready to stop fighting the currents of change and adapt to them. And as inviting as the shore looks, I'm jumping it.

I'll see you all, my beloved family and friends, on the other side of the this adventure. But for now, the water awaits. With love from an airplane somewhere between here and Rabat!*

*Due to the wonders of Blogspot, I was able to write this post in advance and schedule its publishing. The next time I post, this truly will be "writings from Rabat."

Friday, August 30, 2013

24 Hours

Just a short 24 hours before I depart for Morocco! I want to comment on the outstanding support I have received from my community in the past weeks. I am grateful to everyone--from my former swim coach, to my hairdresser, to the cashier at the grocery to store, and to all my friends--for their kindness and curiosity. My heart (and email inbox) have been overflowing with words of encouragement and wisdom, and a simple thank you does not express my gratitude. Here's pictures of what I've been up to in the last couple days!

I've been trying to visit my favorite restaurants/coffee shops. 

My high school's first football game.

One of my dear friends & I before the game. 

My mom gave me a matching infinity bracelet.

I've watched many lovely lake sunsets!

Many goodbyes have been said, as wells as hugs given and promises exchanged to keep in touch and write letters. 

There are exactly 24 hours until my flight lifts off from Grand Rapids! I've been overwhelmed by excitement, nervousness, and sadness in the past couple days but right now I am strangely calm. For the past six Labor Day weekends, my family has hosted 20 something of our oldest friends from Chicago, and this year is no exception. I'm so excited to spend time with these people before I leave, and I can't think of a better send off!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Waiting On the World to Change

With 14 days before I leave, I've decided to revisit my bucket lists.
Before I Leave Home:
1. Stargaze [x] Multiple times!
2. Go to a concert [ ] This did not happen.
3. Go to the beach [x] Yes, and I got to watch this beautiful sunset!

4. Start driving again. [x] Barely, but I'm still checking this.
5. Get a job [x] I worked a ton, and for the most part, loved it!
6. Have a going away party. [x] My friend held a wonderful party for me.
7. Go to the used book store next to my high school and the cafe there. [x] When I wrote this I wasn't imagining going there multiple times every week for two months, but that's what happened. And I loved it!
8. Try not to let the sophomore slump get to me [x] In the end, I survived.
9. Write letters to my family. [ ] This hasn't happened yet but still will!
10. Study French [x] I have, though certainly not enough.
11. See The Five Founders [x] I'm going to check this because I saw one of them in person and talked to all of them over the phone.
12. Learn some Arabic [x] lyeh (yes in Moroccan Arabic)
13. Spend time outside. [x] I went for a sunrise paddle!
14. Buy Morocco appropriate clothes. [x] A work still in progress!
15. Fast during Ramadan to learn what it's like [ ] I let the month slip away from me!
16. Make a scrapbook of life here for my host family. [x] I also made a recipe book.

All in all I'm pretty happy! Two things that did not happen, one that is yet to happen, and thirteen things checked off! Hopefully I'll be just as successful with my Morocco bucket list. I'm anxious for my departure, and at this point, ready as I'll ever be to start the adventure! Until next time!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Countdown Continues & A Pre Departure Playlist

One month from today I will arrive in Rabat, Morocco, exhausted, excited, and nervous. I can't wait to take in everything I've seen pictures of, meet my host family, and start exploring.

In a month's time, I'll have left behind the only place I've ever called home, to carve out a new home. I will have left my best friends, in pursuit of new relationships. My school, my jobs, my favorite stores and coffee shops will all be behind me. And in front of me will be my year abroad. It's very overwhelming and very exciting.

Between now and then, I'll be studying Arabic and French, packing my suitcases, and of course, saying my goodbyes.  In years past (perhaps because of the recession), many of my friends and their families have moved away from Michigan. I've attended and planned several going away parties and now the going away party is mine. (Thank you Kathleen, I can't wait!) Though my move is a little different--it's very temporary, without my family, and something I've thought about a long time--it's now my turn to say goodbye.

During the YES Abroad application process, we were asked to demonstrate a time we showed flexibility. I think flexibility is a life skill that we tend to under value. We're mainly taught that if we don't like something, we should change it. But occasionally, something happens that's out of our control, something that we cannot change. Whatever the circumstance, we must accept the situation and adapt to it, which is much easier said than done. I was reminded of the importance of flexibility, particularly on exchange, when I received a new host family a few weeks ago. I'm very excited to meet my host parents, my host brother (age 27) and my host sister (age 15). Hopefully, I will remember to be adaptable throughout my year abroad.

Lately I've been listening to some travel themed music. Here are the songs from my pre departure playlist:

Home (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes)
Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)
Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen)
Leaving on a Jet Plane (John Denver)
I'm Gonna Be (The Proclaimers)
Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show)
Across the Universe (the Beatles)
Marrakesh Express (Crosby, Stills, and Nash)
The World at Large (Modest Mouse)
Taking the Long Way Around (Dixie Chicks)

Instruments in the Medina in Marrakesh, Morocco!

Thanks for reading! Ma'a salaama :)