I think that today it really hit me that I’m somewhere different from every other place I’ve ever been before. Casablanca isn’t like any other place. The call to prayer sounds five times a day. The architecture is completely different from everywhere else.
I think that my first impressions when I’m abroad are usually how similar the world is everywhere. Weird, right? But people here live in apartments and drive cars. There’s electricity, wifi, and TVs. I have all of the trappings of the modern world still available to me. I think that when people travel they usually have a highly outdated idea of what the place they’ll be traveling to is like. People back home in the States think that when I say I’m in Morocco, I’m in the Morocco of the 1800s or something. They expect me to say that I take a camel to my next destination and that I’m living without running water or something. But it’s not that at all. The challenge of traveling is reckoning with the subtlety of differences between what is familiar and what’s strange. The challenge is to acknowledge that difference isn’t necessarily measurable through a lack of things that are common back home, but rather a society’s choice to value other things and make them common in the place you’ve decided to travel to.