This past week has been an absolute rollercoaster ride, starting off with a trip to the hospital, and ending with a wonderful weekend in Morocco. Let’s just pause for a second because it still blows my mind:
1. That I went to Morocco, and
2. That I’m still here. Because at the beginning of the week I wasn’t sure I would make it.
I can be a drama queen, but on Sunday I was feeling the absolute worst pain in my chest imaginable. I Skyped my mother crying, I called the emergency CIEE number crying, and I called the hospital to pick me up crying. I was scared to death—scared of the pain, scared of going to a foreign hospital, scared that I’ll have to go back home to the U.S. Definitely a nerve-wracking moment, and definitely the most alone I’ve felt while being on this trip. It didn’t help that after I met with the doctor (with some help from a very nice translator), they really weren’t sure exactly what was wrong, so they just sent me home with a prescription. It also didn’t help that because it was Sunday, there were basically no pharmacies open, and the next day was a holiday so I was worried about my chances of getting medication. There was a whole boatload of issues with getting medication. But once I got it, I started feeling a little better. Not much, but just enough to get by.
As I said, I am a huge drama queen, and fell asleep one night fearing that I wouldn’t wake up, but that was probably the sleep deprivation and delirium from the whole experience kicking in. I can laugh now at myself a little bit, but I know the pain was real and it was definitely one of the worst weeks I’ve had. I went back to the hospital a few weeks later to meet with a specialist, and there was a lot of worry that I might have some kind of stomach ulcer. They did a blood test to check for sure, but the results might have taken a while, and if I did have something, I would have to go in Friday for more tests. I would also have to miss the Morocco trip that I had been looking forward to since signing up for the study abroad program, and I was supposed to leave that same night.
So I waited at home for a call that could either severely ruin my weekend (and beyond if it was an ulcer…), or absolutely make my weekend (and lessen my worry by a lot). I got the call a couple hours before I had to leave on the bus towards Morocco, and got the all clear. I did not and do not have an ulcer, and these severe stomach/acid reflux problems could be fixed with some continuous medication. It was like this giant weight off my chest (and a little pain came off too, the medication really helped). Like a build up of fear and pain and just negativity just whooshed! right off of me.
Once again I started crying, just one more time, to just let out all of the overwhelming feelings I had been feeling all week. I thought I was going to get sent home, back to the United States. It was that moment that really solidified my connection here. I have so much going for me here, so much to do and so much to see. I didn’t want to and still don’t want to go home, not yet. I miss everyone back in Iowa, but I need to finish this to the end. Thank goodness some weird stomach/chest pain won’t stop me. I feel so lucky to be here, even more so now. I told my friend a couple weeks ago about how I was (almost) getting bored (bored is a strong word here, but I can’t think of a better word) with Sevilla because I was in a routine. I got the rudest awakenings this past week, and it really opened my eyes. I am so freaking grateful for having this whole opportunity, this whole experience, and Sevilla is home to me now. Coming back from Morocco, I couldn’t stop thinking about how great it would be to be home, or when I get home what I’ll do, but this time the word “home” meant Sevilla. At what point did that change? Two weeks in? Three? I don’t know. My sense of belonging has been switched. Granted, I still think of all the things I want to do when I get home in Iowa, but not until January. Any day sooner is too soon.
Speaking of Morocco…
I went this weekend with my CIEE jouralism class to Chefchaouen, Morocco. We visited Tetuan and Tanger, but our main location was Chefchaouen, which is a beautiful city in the mountains of Morocco. The houses are white, but with blue paint on the doors and halfway up the walls. Blue, everywhere. We stayed with families living there, two people per house. We got the true local experience, living with students who were either in high school still, or graduated recently. They were all wonderful people, so sweet and willing to show us around the town. Their families were just as courteous, and fed us really delicious food. In fact, I don’t think I ate something I didn’t like over there. All of the food was delicious, and something different from what I was used to, both in Spain and in the states. The cookies were absolutely yummy, and I couldn’t help but eat way too many. I’ve been searching online for recipes so I can attempt to recreate them, but I’m not sure it will ever be the same. I also learned how to make authentic Moroccan mint tea, but I think I might cheat a little bit on the sugar. They put in SO. MUCH. SUGAR. in their tea. I’m not even going to tell you how much. Sometimes it was okay, but other times it was like drinking hummingbird syrup. I asked for sugar on the side a lot so I could actually enjoy my tea, but then I was told that it wasn’t “authentic.” If it means saving myself from a sugar-induced heart attack, then I am okay with that! But still good. The whole experience was totally different, and I’m really glad it was. Studying abroad in Europe, you kind of get that culture shock of being away from home and dealing with different languages, but I think this trip to Morocco was actually a very different experience from what I’m used to, in the states or Spain. Different culture, different social norms, different way of eating (finger food, always… unless it’s soup), different language! I was speaking English, Spanish, and the tiny tidbits of French that I know. It was a little confusing to keep track of what language I was actually speaking or hearing sometimes. At one point the host of the home I was staying at told me something in French, and I understood exactly what she was saying. Or I thought I did. It was a weird moment, and I’m still not quite sure if I actually know what she said or if I just made up my own words. Maybe I secretly can speak French. She did say that I had a very good accent.
All in all, a very good experience. At some point in the trip there was a band that played some fantastic authentic Moroccan songs, and the whole group was dancing and singing to a song in Arabic, clapping along with our guide the musicians. It was a moment that will stick with me forever, one of those moments where I felt completely free, like I did in Portugal. One of those moments I think everyone searches for while studying abroad.
This past week started off awfully, but by the next Sunday not only was I feeling better health-wise, but I had also gotten a chance to travel across the ocean to Africa, and have a fantastic time in Morocco. Life is good.
Also, pumpkin spice latte is in the Starbucks here in Spain.
Life is definitely good.