I am now seven weeks in to my ten-week Study Abroad experience here in Meknes, Morocco. I feel like I am at home.
In the pre-departure orientation, they told us that there are four stages of culture shock: the honeymoon phase, which occurs when you first arrive in your new home, where everything is new and amazing (“Wow, street markets and pretty colors, how interesting!”); the hostility phase, where you start to miss home and get frustrated with every tiny thing about your new country (“The water tastes bad” “I miss American food” “Nobody speaks English” “Why do they haggle over EVERYTHING?,” etc.); the humor phase, where you begin to lighten up and laugh about the many absurdities of your new culture (“Can I haggle with the doctor over my bill?”), and finally, the home phase, where you fully settle in and adopt your new country and culture as your own. This is definitely an accurate description of culture shock. I struggled a lot with the hostility phase, and the humor phase was present throughout, but now I have finally reached the home phase. It has certainly helped that I am living with a host family, as that has given me a more tangible sense of home.
I am, however, excited to go back to the US with a different perspective and much better speaking ability in Arabic (and, somewhat surprisingly, French). I will miss all of the things that I have seen here in Morocco, from mountains to deserts to crowded medinas.