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To Go or Not To Go….That is the question

In October of 2017, I decided to explore the Study Abroad Fair at my college.  I wasn’t actually planning on going but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to find out what it was all about.  I joined a couple of friends and we spent an hour or so going from one room to another.  Each room was set up for each country that the college was going to be visiting through different courses.  One thing led to another, and suddenly I was sitting in the back row listening to two professors talk about Morocco.  And boy did they sell it.  These two women were ecstatic about this place.  They met each student with wide eyes as they asked “so, are you interested?” Before I even thought about the logistics of it all, I had a sign up sheet in my hand.  I walked up to one of the professors and asked her to sign me up and with one swift stroke of her pen, I was going to Morocco.  

The trip still a year away, but I could not contain my excitement.  I began to tell my family and friends about the trip as soon as it was confirmed that I was going.  I was excited for the reactions I would get and hoped that everyone around me would be excited too.  But, that wasn’t the case.  The minute I told my parents, both of their faces fell. 

“You’re going where?” 

“Do you know how dangerous it is?” 

“Haven’t you been watching the news?” 

As my parents were panicking, I was frantically searching my mind for some type of evidence that proved them wrong.  Then I realized, they weren’t talking about Morocco.  They were talking about the Islamic faith.  I immediately brushed off their reactions and I calmly told them that I was going and nothing would make me change my mind.

A few months later, I was still receiving mixed reactions but at this point I didn’t care.  It was my decision after all.  I dedicated the next few months on focusing on school and work.  I didn’t let any negative commentary influence my decision on going.  In fact, any commentary at all made me want to go even more.  

All of a sudden, it was September of 2018.  Fall classes had begun and I was 11 short weeks away from going to Morocco.  Once a week, we had mandatory classes with our professors who would be leading the trip.  We learned about worldview tendencies, culture, language, and other important information that we needed for our journey to Morocco.  Each lesson was meant to prepare us for this entirely new world that we were weeks away from entering.  Deep down I knew that nothing could prepare us.

I have traveled outside of the country before but it was all familiar to me because I grew up with the culture of the places I’ve visited.  This was completely different.  I didn’t speak the same language, I didn’t know what food Moroccans ate, I didn’t know what the climate would be like, and I didn’t know what the people would be like.  It all seemed so distant to me as I went through my fall term.  The lessons on Moroccan culture just seemed like an extra class I was taking at the time.  I wasn’t fully aware of my feelings as the time went by because I was so busy with school and extracurricular activities.

Then, it was the last week of fall term.  As I spent day and night preparing for my finals for an entire week, I didn’t get the chance to really think about where I was heading the following week. After finals, I had one week to spend time with my family and prepare for my trip.  Then it hit me.  I was going to be away from my family for 21 days.  That’s almost an entire month.  What if I didn’t feel comfortable? What if I couldn’t eat the food? And then the worst question of all… what if it is dangerous? 

Before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to my family and heading to the airport.  The drive there was pretty quiet as I was lost in my thoughts.  Suddenly, this unexplainable fear came over me.  I looked for every excuse not to go.  

“What if my dad’s cancer gets worse while I’m gone? What if something happens to my mom at work?  What if my mom can’t afford the bills while I’m gone?” 

Deep down I knew those weren’t the reasons why I was scared to go.  All of those negative misconceptions that I’ve heard from people I know and from the media were finally getting to me.  I had no choice but to sit there and think about them.  I no longer had to school or work to keep my mind preoccupied.  

The minute I stepped out of the car and headed into the airport, I kept seeing the word “DANGER” in big, bright red letters.  When I checked in — “DANGER”. When I went through the security line — “DANGER”.  As I walked through the airport to find my terminal — “DANGER”.  Suddenly, that’s all I saw.  My heart was racing and I was fearful.  Then, we were sitting in our assigned seats and we were off.  I tried to leave my fears down on the ground below me as we were flying through the air.  I did everything to distract me including taking Benadryl to help me sleep.  The rest of the day was a blur as we got off one flight and went onto another.  But then, we were there.  We got in a bus and we were off to meet our host families.  



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