The other day I was up on the roof with my host sister taking down the laundry. Night had fallen, so the starlight shone as we quickly unpinned the clothing. Just before opening the door to the stairway below, I took one last glance at the stars and Orion’s belt. A huge smile spread across my face, and tears pricked at my eyes; there was just something about seeing the same constellations that was so beautiful and comforting. My family might be thousands miles away, but to me they’re right with me. On Sundays my dad used to always remark on how beautiful that we were worshipping God with the rest of the world, and now years later I truly understand the weight of that.
Yesterday we had our mid-year orientation at AMIDEAST. We’re halfway through the year and I’m shocked. It’s been four months since I stepped onto that plane, four months since I said my goodbyes. It simultaneously feels like just yesterday, and forever ago. Time doesn’t have the same connotation for me right now; one month doesn’t feel like one month. One month feels like a whole year, but also like a single day. If I count down the days, the weeks, the months, it distracts me from my time here. If I think about how much time I have left; I feel sad, excited, and pressured to do everything I said I would do. My goal here isn’t just a number. My goals here are the relationships I form, the smiles and tears I’ve shared with people here. I’m not just going to make it, I want to succeed. Not because the certificate says I completed 9-10 months abroad, but because of the memories I’ve created, because of how much I’ve grown.
I can already see how I’ve grown as a person. I look back to that warm sunny day in September when I took my first steps in Agdal and I see a different Charis. I am still the same person, but I’ve grown. I’ve learned lessons that most people don’t learn until college. I gained my exchange eighteen, but I’ve learned to take care of my body. I’ve learned how to budget my money and shop for my own toothbrushes. I get myself out the door on time, it’s my responsibility to get myself to school, to the store, to church, anywhere I want to go, it’s on me. I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of my confidence, my independence. I’m proud of the fact that I can walk to the post office and confidently ask for a package in a completely different language.
I said I wasn’t going to countdown the time, but I can’t deny the fact that this exchange is halfway over. I am in no way ready to leave this country yet, but I also cannot wait to get back to my family and my friends who I love so much. I know that there will come a day when I will have to say goodbye to Morocco in the same way I did Uganda, (see This is my Potential Breakup Song), but right now Morocco is my home.