Monday night, my three host sisters, my host mother and I walked arm and arm to the local dress shop. Four days deep into Morocco SST, I am feeling welcomed and safe. Yet, able to communicate fluidly with my sisters and mother? Feeling familiar with my surroundings enough to walk to a shop alone? Not quite yet.

So, submerging my internal yearning to join the conversation, I began to watch. More than opening my eyes wide to the packed-earth roads, the beyond-historical rows of buildings and houses, the vendors selling fruit and children playing in the street. I mean really, really observe. Without the ability to put myself out into the world around me with my words, I am finding it easier to take it all in.

I saw my sisters show each other affection by holding one another’s elbows as they walked. I saw my sister protect her mother’s poise as a finished Muslim woman by tucking her hijaab in under her chin while she negotiated with the tailor. I saw the lines on the tailor’s aged face that suggested years of laughter and concentration. I smelled onions smoking on a grill. I listened closely to the beautiful song of the call to prayer.

As we walked home, my mother looked over her shoulder at me lagging behind her, and called, “Noora! Noora, inti taAban?”   She took my silence as fatigue, but I was absolutely wide awake.

Though I hope to be able to get to know people verbally over the next few months in Morocco, for now I am content with using my senses to the best of my ability to learn, find peace and find adventure in this new place.

Liz Core is a third-year interdisciplinary major.