This will be a series of articles written by an expat living in Marrakech, Morocco.
By Barbara R Deraoui
Rabat – If you asked me several years ago, did I expect to be living my life as an expat overseas, the answer would have been no. The idea had never even crossed my mind.
Though as a child, I lived overseas with my parents for two years, so the idea of it was not entirely foreign to me. That said, sometimes life has a way of taking an unexpected turn. In my case, through a series of unexpected circumstances, I ended up becoming one.
What drew me here was that I had found my high school sweetheart online on after losing touch for more than several decades.
After we found each other, we knew we had to see each other again.
After visiting him several times we decided to not waste this chance we had been given. We felt that we had to do something.
Destiny has a way of doing that. Pushing us towards a path or direction. Sometimes we have to jump at a chance when given to us.
Since I was at a point in my life where I could make a change like this, I packed up my life and moved overseas to be with him.
Over the last four years, my life has been evolving. Just like any move to a new place, there is a period of adjustment.
After a move, it always takes time to build support systems, learn the way around and be able to communicate effectively.
These support systems help offer stability and comfort along with easing the actual transition to a new location wherever it might be.
I had never lived in this part of the world before so everything was brand new to me. I had to create an entirely new support system to fit where I was.
With some time, exploration and familiarity came the development of personal tastes and preferences. We all have them— whether in food, brands, stores, doctors, hair salons, clothes to name a few. So bit by bit I created them here just as I had before.
In fact, I am still creating them as things change or I find something new. Along with my evolution, I discovered some groups through social media for expats like me. They offer advice and counsel which have been very helpful.
It’s a wonderful place to get recommendations, ask a question or find out about something unknown. They can also save time in trying to find something needed or try to avoid a pitfall. Through these groups, I have also been able to make some friends.
In my specific case, I married into a family which also offers companionship and support. My language skills are still improving which allow me to run errands with few communication issues. But they still need to improve so I am considering a tutor to do just that.
I also set up a daily routine and started a new chapter in my life writing poetry and a book. Besides my day-to-day life and activities; the writing adds additional focus and allows me to grow in a new direction. This will be my third career.
On a day-to-day basis I am living my life with my husband. We do the things any couple does— no matter where they are, shopping, cooking, cleaning, traveling and spending time together.
Like any life anywhere, some days are easier than others. Some things are different and some are the same or similar. That is all part of this journey and adventure.
The true challenge of expat life is feeling at home in the new environment so that everyday life ceases to cause stress of the unknown and life becomes a source of pleasure.
Living in another country offers a true-life adventure of seeing the world through different eyes. It also opens up the mind to new ideas and ways of thinking.
My father always said expand the mind through experience. It increases acceptance and lessens intolerance.
This column will be the first of several columns I will write about my life as an expat in Marrakech and Morocco. The topics will vary depending upon what I observe and experience.
Barbara Deraoui (Maxwell) is a former librarian and executive. She worked in libraries and media for over twenty- eight years. She has also worked in the tech and science sectors. Deraoui is a poet and writer. She has been writing poetry for most of her life. She is currently working on a memoir of a special time in her life. She lives with her husband in Marrakech.