Thursday, March 5, 2009

premature culture shock

I leave Morocco one week from today. So I’m kinda freaking out. Not really freaking out, just really nervous about my trip. Not like I didn’t know already, but I’ve taken a new look at myself and my clothes and realize I’m nowhere near appropriate for clubbin’ and going out and having fun and whatnot. My cousin gets into Barcelona a couple days after me so no one I know will be able to see the dumbfounded first look on my face as I enter the vastly different culture and landscape of Spain. Chatting online the other day she said the night she gets in her and I and others “should all go out dancing, won’t that be great after over a year of covering up?” Ha, well ya! But also, what!? I’ve never been the clubbin’ or dancing in public type, though it seems like a lot of fun. In the states I knew how to get myself ready for a night out and done up enough to not feel like a complete idiot, but wow it’s been so long. Kohl is the extent of my make-up collection.

Even if it’s not welcome or easy, it’s incredible how quickly we adapt. I took a shower for the first time Tuesday since before Christmas (I’ve been hamaming instead, which is way better anyhow, and I’ll write a post about it soon) and realized I didn’t even know what to do. It’s been a solid cold winter; on average I wear three pairs of pants, wool socks, uggs, five wool sweaters and my jellaba or coat-all at the same time. Oh and a scarf or two. So I’ve been a blimp since October or so.

I’m fine with being blimpy and not having a care in the world about how I look, forgetting fashion and treating clothes as only what they are-utilitarian. However, the lack of exercise, accompanied by my fabulous cooking, and the curse of elastic, the changing of my bodies shape could sneak by relatively unnoticed. I noticed of course, but when I tried on my least raggedy pair of jeans the other day and had to hold my breath to zip them up, I realized confidence and dancing would not be my forte this trip. Eek. I know everyone feels a little funky about their bodies, and I’m generally ok, and don’t try to be something I’m not. But to lose what I had completely! Anyhow, it’s a bit scary.

I’m also nowhere near ready for Europe mentally, and simple social interaction. I have a painfully awkward demeanor in general, always have, but it’s so much worse now! Not only am I not capable of having discussions that aren’t in some way related to Peace Corps, Morocco, bodily functions and malfunctions, language, missing, and food, but my general habits around men and women are wildly different now. I haven’t lost my American culture, but the Moroccan culture I’ve acquired sits heavily on it. What the hell am I going to do if I get hit on? Call the gendarmes?

I guess we’ll just wait and see; whether I’m going to run home to my bled village and the comforts of hot sugary tea and bread, and my life as a cat lady, or if I will wake up, remember myself in America and feel rejuvenated and refreshed by a new place and culture. I’ve never stayed in one place this long before, most Americans don’t. Since moving around a lot when I was a kid, then later flying back and forth between different states for family and college, I was often on the go. I’ve stayed in the same country for a year and a half now, the same village for 15 of those months. I’ll only be gone a couple weeks, but I feel like it will be worlds away. At least my excitement equals my nervousness, I think, but goodness the dirham-euro exchange rate is seriously depressing.

The plan has changed slightly, and any new tips or info are greatly appreciated. I’m still going to Barcelona with Danielle, then maybe going near the border of France, possibly traveling with her friends. (Funny bit I have to share, when chatting another day she said some of her friends may be going to Spain for spring break as well and asked if I’d like to go around with them-she’s at Harvard Med School by the way-and I said of course, but beware since I’ve become so ridiculously socially awkward by now, and she said, “bri, they’re med students, they know awkward.” Haha, but really, what am I gonna say to a Harvard Med Student?) Then Natalie and I are going to spend our time in Germany in Berlin, not Munich, with a friend of hers. So, I’m wishing myself luck, yikes.


Leonard said...

What an interesting blog!! You WILL have a great time. We met many of Danielle's friends last weekend and they are just so nice and down-to-earth. Relax, deep breath, enjoy immensely! love, auntie g and uncle lenny

Diane Kappa said...

Deep breath Bri. Remember back when you first arrived in Morocco? I imagine you had no idea how to survive in that culture. You had to be flexible, learn and go with the flow until you found your way. This trip to Europe will be easy compared to that. You spent most of your life as an American living in the USA. I imagine you will be surprised at how quickly the memories of how to survive as an American come back. So, be calm, be flexible, don't be hard on yourself and have fun.

PS. One thing I am pretty sure will be shocked at how loud we Americans are. Even in Budapest (which is a pretty big European city) I can hear my fellow Americans coming before I see them.