The answers to “How was it?” and all your other questions

The answers to some common questions we’ve been getting since we’ve gotten back. If you have more questions or want to chat more with us about our experience, feel free to get in touch!

How was it?

Cori: Short answer – It was often difficult, but overall it was great. Long answer – If you want the long answer, read the blog!

Matt: Challenging but fulfilling.

Wait… how long were you gone?

Cori: 2 years and 3 months… and it felt like it.

How are the people there? Did you have any friends?

Matt: The people are great! Honestly not that different from here. The majority were incredibly friendly and welcoming but of course there were a few that tried to rip us off or take advantage of us. We had lots of friends; host family siblings, pick-up basketball friends, friendly students, some great work associates, etc.

Are you glad you did it?

Cori: Yes. Even though it was really tough at times, and I was often looking forward to coming home, I am glad I did it. I learned so much and I really think it was a unique and valuable experience that I’ll be able to draw on for the rest of my life.

Matt: Definitely. It was a huge challenge that really pulled me out of my comfort zone over and over again and pushed me to get better at things that I never thought I’d do well. It was also an incredible opportunity to integrate into a different culture to the point that I felt at home by the end. And I can’t forget the travel opportunities – we explored nearly every region of Morocco, a place that we might never have gone otherwise.

Would you do it again?

Cori: Would I do it a second time? No. Would I do it over again? Uh… yeah, I think so.

Matt: I think so. I’ve always thought it would be a great thing to do once we’re finished working.

What was the best part?

Cori: This is a tough one – I think it’s a tie between the times I felt like I was really making a connection, regardless of language, with a Moroccan; and the times I could go hike and travel out in the middle of nowhere and feel confident and competent enough in the language to go with only Americans.

Matt: The opportunities that opened up once we learned the language.

What was the worst part?

Cori: Some days I just felt like I wasn’t doing anything useful, and that my language skills were awful, and that I was a bad volunteer for any number of reasons. Those days when you get really down on yourself are definitely the worst part.

Matt: The slow times. I had a really difficult time during Ramadan our first year – I was trying to fast for the first and only time of my life and work was basically non-existent. Without those external energy inputs I just started to wilt.

Are you glad to be back?

Cori: YES.

Matt: Definitely! While it was a great experience, it feels great to be back in a place where I always (usually) know what is culturally acceptable and where it’s easier for me to join conversations.

What’s next?

Cori: Traveling and visiting more people during the summer, attending a bunch of weddings, and then finding jobs in the fall. I’m going to start looking into refugee and immigrant resettlement work, probably out of Columbus.

Matt: I’ll be with Cori for the rest of the summer, of course. Then hopefully I can find work in ecological restoration.

So that’s it, and thanks for following the blog! We’ve enjoyed keeping you all updated thoughout our journey, and we love getting your comments after each post. Talla f raskum (Take care of yourselves)!

— Cori and Matt

Back in the USA

Well, it’s been about a month since our last post on the day we left Morocco, and a new post on the blog is badly overdue. I had plans to write a nice summary of what I was looking forward to and what I would miss before we left Azilal, but I ended up being a lot busier leaving town and traveling around afterward than I anticipated. So I’ll give you a quick update about what we’ve been doing since we got back, what we’ve enjoyed, and what we’re missing.

Oslo – We were here for 3 days immediately following Morocco. We enjoyed the cleanliness, quietness, the proximity to beautiful fjords and forests, and the ability to wash our hands with soap and warm water even in public restrooms. We did have some price shock though, considering Oslo is one of Europe’s more expensive cities.

Hiking outside Oslo

Hiking outside Oslo

New York – We flew into NYC, where my parents and sister met us to welcome us to America. We had a great time eating and drinking our way around the city and getting to see my family, but we missed hearing Arabic – even in Oslo we’d heard some on the streets, but none in NYC.

Mom and Rachel welcomed us with an improvised napkin sign, Dad welcomed us with a beer :)

Mom and Rachel welcomed us with an improvised napkin sign, Dad welcomed us with a beer 🙂

Boston – We had a great time visiting friends, but were sad to be back to cold weather (spring in Boston – we probably should have expected it). We also came to terms with indoor heating, indoor and outdoor temperatures being different, washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers.

Friends and beer!

Friends and beer!

Philadelphia – Visited some former PCV friends and got to pick their brains about the readjustment process. Enjoyed going to a summer street festival and brunch for the first time in two years.

Friends and beer and food!

Friends and beer and food!

Washington, DC – Had a great stay with Matt’s brother and his family and enjoyed sharing some stories about our experiences with his kids. We also marveled at how clean the subway into downtown was, while simultaneously being outraged at the price. It was also a nice feeling to celebrate our return to America by visiting the capital.

Matt getting some quality time with his nephew Nathan

Matt getting some quality time with his nephew Nathan

After DC, we flew to Columbus, visited Matt’s parents in Dayton, and are fortunate to be able to continue to travel around the state and the country this summer to visit more friends and family. We’ve been really enjoying seeing everyone, eating food that we’ve been missing, drinking beer, walking around outside without getting stared at, hanging out with pets, and lots of other things.

Mom and Rachel welcome us to Columbus with the real sign

Mom and Rachel welcome us to Columbus with the real sign

But we’re also missing a lot about Morocco. I miss the mountain view from our apartment, speaking Arabic, my Moroccan friends, my PCV friends, being 2 hours away from amazing hiking, having cheap public transport available to get to said hiking, cheap veggies, cheap herbs, cheap spices, cheap fresh meat, and walking everywhere in town.

So that’s what we’ve been up to in the past month. We’ve got a lot more readjustment to look forward to, and while that’s definitely an important part of the Peace Corps experience, we won’t be including it in the blog. Stay tuned for one more final wrap-up post, coming soon!

– Cori