I have now spent 365 days in Morocco.
Sometimes I walk through the streets of my town, or the dirt-laced paths that weave through the grove of date palms, and I have to pinch myself. This is my life now I think to myself, and look up at the beautiful mountains and the ever-sunny sky and smile with wonder.
But most often, when I’m fistbumping the kids that come to my youth center or greeting my favorite hanut owners when I walk down the street, I don’t need to pinch myself at all. In my head it’s all so matter-of-fact: This is my life. As if living as a foreigner in a small desert town in the middle of nowhere was something that people do all the time.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, over the past 365 days the word “normal” to me has completely reinvented itself. The wide-eyed girl who stepped off the plane in Casablanca one year ago always knew she’d get to this point, but it’s still amazing to look back and marvel in all of the things that have happened.
So, in honor of this anniversary let’s take a look at this past year by the numbers:
On the place I call home — In the past year I have lived:
- With 2 different host families for a total of 4 months
- In my own apartment for 8 months, the first time I have ever lived alone
- 0 days living with hot water, insulated walls, indoor heat, or air-conditioning
- A 6 hour bus ride away from the closest major city, grocery store, real restaurant, etc.
On how I spend money —
- The amount of my monthly stipend: $350 USD (which I rarely spend all of)
- The cost of a loaf of bread: 15 cents US
- Pieces of new, unused clothing that I have purchased: 0
- Number of times I have accessed my US bank account: 0
On learning new language(s) —
- 220 hours of formal instruction in Darija (Moroccan Arabic)
- 60 hours of formal instruction in Tashelheet (a dialect spoken by the Amazigh people in my region)
- Days that there has been at least one conversation that I didn’t fully understand: 365
On the weather —
- Number of months at site where the temperature rose over 100 degrees F: 7
- Average temperature in the summer at site: 120 degrees F
- Hottest temperature experienced at site: 140 degrees F
- 2 major floods experienced, the worst my region has seen in more than 30 years
On things I do for fun —
- Number of photographs taken: 4,768
- Number of books read: 21
- Number of parasites I’ve had treated: 2 (just kidding that wasn’t fun)
- Number of visitors I’ve had in Morocco: 6
- Number of major Moroccan cities I have traveled to: 8
On my work —
- Hours it takes me to travel to the capital: 15
- Number of grants I have written: 1
- Number of vacation days that I’ve taken: 9
- Number of youth that cried in the Haunted House: 7
- Number of Peace Corps committees I am a part of: 1 committee, 1 volunteer-run group
- Number of students who regularly cram into my classes at the Dar Chebab: 50
Number of days that I’ve regretted joining the Peace Corps: 0