Ottawa

It’s so hard to find the time to blog! I’m learning very quickly that travel blogging is entirely different from life blogging, and I’m definitely better suited for it in a travel setting!  When you travel it’s easy to take absolutely everything in, analyze it, make sense of it, and then write something of substance.  When you’re actually living somewhere, your everyday is about so much more than observing interesting details and describing them, and it’s easy to let some of the amazing “Morocco” things slip by.

I’ve officially been here for a month now, and Rabat is definitely home.  I have patterns and a schedule and an everyday life that revolves around my school and neighbourhood and apartment and friends here.  That said, there’s also everyday reminders that I don’t quite belong here in the same way people do who have lived here all their lives.  Harassment is an obvious example, considering I get a lot of extra attention being a white, blond foreigner.

A completely different example came this week with the shooting in Ottawa.  Living and studying abroad, it’s easy to become completely absorbed in what’s happening here; my life back in Ottawa doesn’t get very much thought. For something so traumatic to happen in the city where I would otherwise be was a massive shock to the whole life and existence I have set up here. Throughout the attack on parliament and downtown Ottawa, my friends and school were heavily affected. University of Ottawa was on lockdown, with all classes and exams canceled. I had friends stuck in classrooms for five hours loading their twitter feeds to find out if the at-the-time multiple shooters were headed for campus. I had friends who had to black out their windows of their ground-level apartments on streets that were officially closed off by the police. I even had friends that were on lockdown in the Parliament buildings.

I would never compare my experience to the ones of my friends who lived the attack first hand, but following the action from across the world definitely opened up an interesting perspective. In my experience, most people approach studying in Morocco as a risk. Before even saying, “have fun”, the most common thing people say is, “be safe”. In almost every sense, Morocco is the risk, and staying in Ottawa is staying in safety. As much as I know Morocco is a safe and stable country, being told over and over to be safe starts to subconsciously associate Morocco with fear. So for something like that to happen in Ottawa, the place that, in my mind, has become associated with safety, is completely mind blowing.

On the other hand, living abroad, and in particular, in a developing country, has given me a different sort of appreciation for Canada. I always say that I’m most proud of being Canadian when I travel, and this has been completely true for Morocco. Us Canadian students in the international crew are almost constantly talking about Canada, either discussing with students from other countries about what we stand for or arguing between one another about politics, hockey, or whatever else might come up. But there’s certain things about Canada that you can’t possibly appreciate until you leave it behind. From potable water to laws that protect and preserve equality, Canada’s got a few things going for it. As sad and terrifying as the attack on Ottawa was, it also gave me another reason to be proud of Canada. Canada’s reaction, in terms of the general population as well as the police, was so impressive observed from afar.

Traveling around and living abroad, you rarely look back and observe your country from the outside because you’re too busy observing everything new surrounding you. The events on Wednesday were tragic, but they gave me the change to observe my country from a completely new perspective.  It is a pretty cool feeling to look back at Canada and see something to be proud of.

Traveling around and living abroad, you rarely look back and observe your country from the outside because you’re too busy observing everything new surrounding you. The events on Wednesday were tragic, but it is a pretty good feeling to look back at Canada and see something new to be proud of.

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