2011.12.09 by Josh Erb; 1115 words.
The past few weeks have been overwhelming. You may probably have guessed this fact in light of my recent lack of posting anything. Either that, or you think I'm lazy and don't want to keep you, my beloved readership, up to the minute on my comings and goings. Shame on you! I HAVE been busy, and in fact, I have several things I need to talk to you about. But, before I dive into the deep emotional introspection that I know is imminent, I am going to swim around in the shallow end of simple fact reporting and get used to the temperature of the water. I know that you're probably thinking that I took that metaphor past the point of making sense, but I'm feeling a little overly melodramatic today (for reasons that shall be revealed during my afore mentioned introspection) so prepare yourselves for a lot of excessive, misguided metaphors.
Last weekend I participated in a group trip to Fez. One of the oldest cities in the history of the world. It was really fun, and the only downside was that we were only there for one night and a total of about 24 hours. There was much to see and much to do. If there's one thing this program has perfected it's the cultural and travel aspects of an exchange. In the short time that I've been here I've seen almost all of the major cities and been able to experience unimaginable things. Below are a few of my favorite pictures from the weekend. If you want to see more you can find them here.
So that's my recent trip in half a dozen pictures. Recently, I was able to experience Morocco's public baths. What the local's here refer to as the "hammam." It was something I had put off thus far, because, for all intents and purposes it sounded like something that would make me extremely uncomfortable. But let me tell you, it was anything but that. Now, I could go on and on trying to give you a description of what exactly it was like, but experience has taught me that it's impossible to describe something as amazing, and unconventional (by American standards) as a hammam in a way that does it complete justice.
So yes, on a completely surface level, if I tell you that I paid a little less than 5 USD to strip down to my boxers, lather myself in olive paste, and have a stranger scrub me down in a steam room, it sounds ridiculous. Believe me, I too was once like you, skeptical and cautious, but my eyes have been opened. I have never felt cleaner or more refreshed than I did in the moments following my emergence from that hammam. It was wonderful, and I'm going to try and go back again and again for the short time I have left here.
Which brings me to the reason for my deep introspection. In the past week, the decision has been made and finalized that I will be coming home for the spring semester. This decision was anything but impulsive and has been reached through a very taxing, stressful process of re-examining my academic and financial priorities. Though I know the benefits of staying would be innumerable, and I can see every hardship and frustration I have endured this semester blossoming into knowledge and cultural understanding, I cannot justify the possibility of prolonging my education and falling deeper and deeper into an ever growing debt.
So after much deliberation, and countless e-mail exchanges with numerous advisors, I made my official decision this past week. Once I began to address this dilemma, I knew that no matter what decision I made it would be bittersweet. Especially since I'm just beginning to feel comfortable with my host family, the city, the culture, (not so much the language, but that's my own fault), and the idea of being more than just a tourist in a place like Morocco. But life is full of bittersweet decisions and I would not have made this one if I was not fully convinced that it was the right one for me at this time.
Morocco is a beautiful and mysterious place, and I am not going to exclude the possibility of returning in another context. At at time that is more justifiable academically.
As a result of this decision, my final month in Morocco, because that's really what it's coming down to right now, is not going to be easy. Already I have made a check list and realized that if I'm not careful I may have a stress induced brain aneurysm. In the next three weeks I will be busy registering for next semester's classes, which has already proved to be a bit more difficult due to the fact that most of the classes are already full; writing up a syllabus for my independent study Arabic class next semester, one of the terms of my return as per my scholarship requirements; changing my plane ticket; preparing for all my final exams here with the program, that's right I'm still a student; finding a place to live, it's not as easy to sign a lease while in a different country as you might expect; and preparing for a late December visit from Karolina before finally heading home three days before the semester starts. This next month is extremely dangerous for someone who has a genetic disposition towards hypertension.
So I apologize if, in this most crucial time for updates, my blog becomes uncharacteristically silent. I hope you'll understand that I'm extremely busy trying not to die from an anxiety induced heart attack. I'm making gradual progress on all of these fronts of course, and I'm very confident that next semester will be exceptional despite all of this stress and difficult decision making.
The title of this post is an Arabic proverb that basically means, "the destiny of all suns is to set."
And on that note, I'll leave you. Thanks for reading.