The Last Hurrah

So as I write my final entry to you all, I’m lying on my bed back in Moulsecoomb after almost 12 hours of travelling. Worn out, I’m reflecting on the last three weeks. And trust me, there’s a lot to reflect on!
Today has been a bit surreal really. After spending three weeks in a place as different from home as chalk is from the proverbial cheese, we’ve found ourselves marvelling at every turn at the simplest things. Things like stepping off the plane into London Heathrow and finding billboards written in English. Or the fact that people actually stop for pedestrian crossings. Or the fact that one could buy a meal that wasn’t chicken and chips, and that the bottled drinks were €4 each in Paris, instead of less than £1 in Rabat. My lunch in the airport today was one of the most delicious I remember eating in a long time, simply because of the lack of lasagna in Morocco. That and the fact that we were eating somewhere between 3 and 5pm. We’re still not quite sure.
But the thing that threw us more than any of that was genuinely not knowing which language to use. It really took noticable effort to speak in English, having become so accustomed to speaking in broken Arabic-French for so long. We spoke in Arabic to French air hostesses, French waitresses, and English border force. And I’m convinced it won’t stop there. If you watch me over the next few days, I bet you’ll see me saying “shokrann” to my bus drivers and “asifa” to people in the street. Make sure you have a camera to hand in those moments – the looks on their faces will be worthy of exhibition.
The jumble of words going around in my head right now is really making me think about language as a whole, and how simply amazing it is! Thinking about the fact that the language we’ve been learning the past weeks is the language that a vast section of the world lives out their lives in, yet we don’t understand it, just baffles me. Somewhere in the world, someone’s first word wasn’t “Daddy”, it was “أبي”. The words that someone spoke on their deathbed, that will be carried around forever in the hearts of their loved ones, weren’t uttered in English. People are having arguments and sharing jokes and baring their souls right now, and if you and I were a fly on the wall, we would have absolutely no idea what was going on. How incredible! What a mind-boggling world we live in.
Someone from our class said that learning a language requires constant revision. This is true. Learning another language is certainly not the easy option in life. But if you remember anything at all about our adventures over the last weeks, please remember this: it really is worth it. We’ve had many a hilarious language blunder, not least of which was trying to ask a non-English-speaking man at Rabat airport if there was a kiosk available to print out boarding passes (yeah, try that if you’re bored one day!), and we’ve absolutely destroyed the language by some of our class mishaps, but after all the failures and the challenges and the confusion, we’ve emerged as, well, better communicators. Guys, just to squeeze this in, we are set on continuing our language learning into the next year, and if you get the chance, please try it. It’s an amazing privilege, for the time we have left, to be able to see into someone else’s world, get on their level, and relate to them, just by speaking the language that they live and dream in.
Well, I guess this is goodbye! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the sowing of our travelly oats. All the best for the future! Thanks for tagging along on our adventure. You’ve been amazing company.


I am a final year BA International Relations student at Sussex University, and I'm also studying the Arabic Language Elective Pathway. Alongside this, I am acting as a Student Language Ambassador, in hopes of convincing the world that a language is a beautiful thing :)

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