A member of the “brain drain” generation, returning home to Morocco after a term studying abroad gets more and more complex with every visit.
It seems every time I come back to Morocco, my home country, so to say, I feel a certain kind of reverse culture shock. While everything is still familiar, I always have the impression that I have matured and changed. Lately, however, I have been pondering whether the underlying reasons for this shock go beyond the simple answer of me having changed.
The more I think about it, the more it seems that the problem lies with the familiarity of the place. In a certain sense, I think the discomfort that I feel comes from the stagnant nature of life in my home country.
Initially, I found this stagnation comforting, even relaxing. Nothing really changes, at least superficially. And, after a year of having to worry about my own wellbeing, my finances, my grades, coming back home to my family who will take care of me feels like a time where I can take a breath and recharge. Yet, every time I come back, it takes less than a week to find myself nostalgic for my adventures abroad and eventually bored out of my right mind.
The truth is, I find myself less relaxed during my break but rather trapped in this older version of myself, unable to truly explore the new ways in which I have changed. Granted, now that I am 20 years old, I enjoy more freedom from my religious parents; however, the dichotomy between my religious upbringing and my, to a certain extent, more westernized and liberal ideology proves hard to navigate. Being forced to act as a chameleon, adapting to my surroundings, only makes for a more confusing identity.
This dichotomy is exhausting, to say the least. Consequently, I finally understand the desire of, what I like to call, the ‘brain drain kids’ to stay in a foreign country that they now call home. The constant back and forth, especially in the cases where the westernized ideals become more aligned with ours at the expense of our traditional upbringing, plagues us with the blurring of an identity that we have worked hard to define to the point of suffering from cognitive dissonance.
In the end, it seems only logical to choose the new home, where we live unencumbered and free from the expectations and judgments that we are doomed to suffer from in our ‘home country’. It appears almost vital in order to preserve our identity, at the risk of cutting ties with the people who raised us and watched us grow.
I wonder if this dilemma is relevant to the people who lived abroad but do not have to come back to a different set of values that they have crafted for themselves. Perhaps, this cognitive dissonance ought to exist to a certain degree in everyone who is thrown into a foreign country, but it could be more pronounced in those of us who have morphed into a chameleon to appease the riptide.
In fact, I am certain of it, for we become forced to construct a multifaceted set of ideals which attempt to reconcile our traditional upbringing with our more detached views on religion and westernized social practices. Nevertheless, the balance between the two is far from easily achieved, for you could be considered too traditional in your views abroad yet too loose in your views at home. None of the parties involved are truly satisfied only and one eventually finds oneself caught in the crossfire.