Monday, June 17, 2013


So, I'm home.

We left early Sunday morning and arrived in Washington that night. All day Monday was a post-program orientation, which included discussion about community re-entry, reverse culture shock, etc. Tuesday morning we gave a short presentation at the State Department, along with the YES Abroad Bosnia students who had also just returned. That afternoon we all said our tearful goodbyes (sarcasm?) and went our separate ways; I arrived in Salt Lake late that night.

This week, then, has been a lot of seeing people again and of course lots of questions: my very favorite thing about Morocco (I'll go with the linguistic diversity), my favorite food (pastilla, perhaps?), and whether or not it was worth it (I might say "duh," but apparently not everyone has gotten that impression from me.) Seriously though, yes, it was fun, and yes, it was worth it, and yes, I'm glad I went, and yes, I missed my family, and yes, I'm glad to be home, and yes, I want to go back someday. I think those are the easy questions.

And yes, you too should apply!

Now, of course there were challenges. Certainly some of these are good and necessary for a complete foreign exchange experience, and I wouldn't want to have had it too easy, but it's always tempting to think about how much better it could have been. Because in theory, it could have been so different if the program had been better or I had been more motivated or something. And yes, my school was kind of a joke (I have no desire to elaborate), and that's going to be improved for next year's kids, and I probably would have learned more Arabic had I not been stuck with other Americans the whole time, and that's going to be different in the future, and yes, I could have done so much more with my time. But that sort of thinking is clearly not helpful, and even if we kind of were AMIDEAST's guinea pigs this year, I can't begin to complain about the experience I had. I mean, I did get to study in Morocco for a year, totally funded by the government. (Thank you, taxpayers!)

So, what was so great about my experience, anyways? [brought to you by YES Programs and the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs.]

– Language learning. I vastly improved my French, Arabic, and Spanish, which will certainly be useful to me in the future, and I enjoyed it to boot.

– Cultural exchange: a bit harder to measure, but the essential goal of the program. I learned so much about Morocco, Islam, American society, culture in general, living with a host family, etc.

– Personal development: you know, like becoming more mature and independent and confident and stuff.

And we keep hearing that it's going to be many years before I fully realize the impact this had on me. But I think it's safe to say it pretty much changed my life.

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