2019 Spring Amideast External Programs Gwen Jensen Morocco

Halfway

The home screen of my laptop is almost empty, with the exception of a floating purple bubble: in the bubble, seconds tick past, like sand draining from an hourglass. The countdown I set before my departure serves as a constant reminder of the fleeting time I have left in Morocco. I’m a big fan of countdowns: always having something to look forward to. My favorite holiday is New Years eve and the ritualized communal chanted countdown that ushers in twelve months of new adventures. If you flipped through my agenda, you’d find color coated countdowns to everything from Spring Break, to midterms, to birthdays, and everything else that chunks each droning semester with sweet rewards sprinkled throughout them. But as my keyboard clicks away to put the finishing touches on midterm assignments, and the seconds on my countdown tick closer and closer to shaving yet another day off the countdown to my return to The States, my emotions are mixed.

Tomorrow, my countdown to Spring Break will reach its final second. The start of Spring Break aligns perfectly with the halfway point of this semester: two months behind me and two ahead. This reality has been a popular topic of discussion among my classmates and I during breaks from our midterm studying. The feeling of fleetingness is one which I have always grappled with: a semester abroad has only amplified these feelings into a measured microcosm of life at home.  

The past two months in Morocco have sped by: dotted by a thousand experiences and lessons. Several things have contributed to the distorted time warp and skewed perceptions. Unlike my semesters at Temple, wherein I have the freedom to stay awake through the early hours of the morning, in Morocco I have the closest thing to a bed time that I’ve had since middle school. In addition to set class times, I have the new task of maneuvering around set meal times: the gaps are filled with fairly ritualized daily tasks. The days here go by fast, so the weeks here go by fast, and with every weekend booked with exciting new travel and destinations, I have reached the halfway point of this semester at record speed.

Despite this, the two months ahead of me that will end with me boarding a flight home seem endless. I have grown so accustomed to my life here, something that a few months ago I never thought was possible, that it is difficult for me to even imagine what happens when this countdown runs out. The strangest thing to conceptualize is at this moment I am halfway from home, no matter how you slice it: halfway from my departure from home as I am halfway from my return. The coming weeks offer many tempting opportunities for countdowns: flights to Egypt, trains to Spain, and inevitably uncomfortable bus rides to far away corners of the country. However, instead of watching the seconds tick away, I hope that I can absorb this chapter of my unfolding story.

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