Wednesday, December 25, 2013

And so it is Christmas

Recipe for Christmas Joy

(specifically, when over 4,000 miles away from the traditions of Christmases past)

- last minute shopping trips (to the Medina, instead of the mall) 

- a Christmas tree (not from the Christmas tree farm, but from the wonderful store Yatout. Substitute a Fez for a star/angel) 

- stockings (my lovely mother sent mine with me in August, already filled. I filled big socks for my host sisters to share the tradition with them) 

- Secret Santa (with my YES family, thanks to Jordan for the hammam basket). 

-church on Christmas Eve (one service at Rabat International Church, another at the Cathedral. Both lovely). 

- a delicious Christmas breakfast (at my friends' host family's home) 

-some sort of giving back (I taught English class today) 

- a delicious Christmas dinner (we were invited to the home of an American expat family here in Rabat, whose kindness overflowed. I also skyped into my family's Christmas dinner back home) 

- wonderful people to share the holiday with (my host family, my YES Abroad family, the family who welcomed us into their home, the NSLIY students we met at dinner, my Moroccan friends, my family and friends back home) 

Mix together in a few wonderful, chaotic days. 

I thought that my first Christmas away from all the traditions that have marked this season in the past would be lonely. But in reality, the only thing missing was snow. And Rabat gave us some pouring rain to make up for it. I will never forget this wonderful Christmas and everyone who shared it with me. My Christmas bubbled over with light and joy, and in that sense, it was just like every Christmas I've ever known. Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating all over the world :) 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ana Fr7na

I apologize for my absence in the blogging world. I don't know how to share all I am learning and experiencing, but I want to keep writing. Despite the inevitable bad days, uphill battles with language, in the past few weeks, I have started to feel truly happy in Morocco.

When I read my journals from the beginning, I sound different. It's not just that they're in English, unlike my last two journals in French, but my voice is younger. 

In September, I had the chance to be a child again--to take in the wonder of this new, unfamiliar place with my eyes wide open. I sat on the floor most of the time, still unable to see over the ledge I used to pull myself up, but craving more of the world just beyond my fingertips. 

Then October rolled around. Rhythms set in, but their novelty sheltered me from discouragement. In this time, I started to crawl--slowly at first but then faster. Periodically, I would have to stop and catch my breath, but on the whole, the progress I made felt tangible. Markedly, I moved in the forward direction.

In November, crawling stopped being enough. I wanted (and needed) to start walking, in order to move from the person I was (pre exchange) to the person I want to be at the end of the year. I took my first full-fledged steps, but I fell to the ground more times than not. Most days, I felt that I would stagnate in this state of stumbles. My knees buckled instantly at the objects in my path, and I ended up back on the ground, feeling the same confusion I did during my first weeks, without the wonder. 

In December, I started walking. I can't exactly place where I stopped stumble- stepping and started striding, but I do remember a feeling of contentedness coming over me in the Medina as the sun set. Somehow, what was at first shiny and then dull became a blissful combination of appreciation with a healthy dose of unknown. I want to be clear—though I walk now, I still fall down. But I no longer grasp at thin air or fear that I’ll never get up. I know what to reach for, and I believe now that there is always something wonderful ahead. 

Here are a few of the wonderful things I’ve experienced:  Raja (the team representing Morocco in the FIFA Club Cup) won against Mineiro, of Brazil, on Wednesday. I stood on my balcony with my sisters, hearing the blasting of car horns, and screaming “Dima Raja!” The streets of Rabat were full of celebrating fans. Raja is playing Bayern (Germany) tomorrow night and I can’t wait!  

Some of the celebrations! (not my picture)

Today, I saw the King of Morocco! I was walking home from school when I saw my street, full of people waving Moroccan flags and pictures of the King, and then I heard a cheer and I saw the King in his car. I didn’t even know he was coming to the mosque next to my apartment, but I feel so lucky! 

These types of unexpected joys that accompany my days in Rabat make me say with confidence—I am happy = je suis contente = ana fr7na!