This is my last mandatory Global Citizen journal entry. It’s been eight months, which means that I’ve written sixteen journal entries. Aside from the journal entries, I’ve also been regularly updating a public blog for my friends and family back home to read. And aside from the blog, I’ve also been frequently updating a physical journal. I’ve also written essays for eleven colleges and a bunch of scholarships. lol
I don’t think that I write more frequently here than when I was in high school. But the difference between writing during a year abroad and writing during high school is that school writing is about other stuff that isn’t yourself: APUSH essays on immigration during the 1920s, English essays about Huck Finn, and so on…. Here, though, all the writing I do is self centered. For example, the point of college essays is to talk about yourself haha. And for Global Citizen class, we’re expected to write about our own experiences and then tie them to the cultural theories we learn in class. I also record my own thoughts in my journal and in my blog. Oh also the occasional Instagram caption. Again, all self centered!! All about myself!
I just tried to think about a time in the last eight months when I wasn’t writing about myself. I can only come up with the French writing I’ve done for my internship. There’s also texting with friends both here and back home. But that’s it.
After all of this writing, I really don’t think that my writing skills have improved. Actually, it depends on how you define a good writer—is a good writer someone who’s good at using language, someone who knows how to work with word choice in order to evoke specific effects in their writing? If you go by that definition, then no, I don’t think I’ve become a better writer.
Here, nobody is judging the quality of my writing. There’s no English teacher making sure that I use good grammar or appropriate word choice, and nobody to give me “style points” on my essays. I still don’t know anything about verb tenses and I’m pretty sure I misuse them all the time oops. When I write now, I don’t think about how I’m using English; I just think about how to express what I want to say in the simplest way possible. I still write with the vocabulary equivalent of a fourth grader haha—but that’s okay. It’s fast.
But even though I’m not a better writer, I do consider myself a better communicator, because of all of the self-centered writing I’ve done. I may not have better language skills, but I do think I’ve improved content wise, both written and spoken.
Language: possibly the most measurable one. I’m better at French. I can understand and communicate (kind of) in Darija.
Realizing things that aren’t directly in front of me: I used to have to have something written out or spoken to me before I could really understand it, because I was a lot less adept at understanding actions. Now I’m better at understanding actions and then changing my own words/actions based on those. This is perhaps the biggest part that living in Morocco has forced me to improve on, and constantly writing about it through the year has made me realize it.
Spoken communication: For all of my life I would have said that I convey myself better through writing than from speaking. Now I honestly don’t have an answer to that question anymore because I’m better at both in different ways.
Being more introspective: before this year, I never wrote about myself and I very rarely wrote down my thoughts. I did things without thinking about their possible repercussions, I didn’t think about self improvement at all, and I didn’t like activities where I reflected on myself and my growth. I didn’t journal. I’d go with my mom to yoga classes at the gym but I’d be super impatient and think about other things when the teacher told me to clear my mind. Here, though, writing about myself so much has been healthy because it’s taught me to think about myself and reflect on my actions.
Being more filtered and less filtered at the same time: Now I’m better at choosing what to filter around certain people: what to say around whom, what not to say around whom, etc… There are some topics that I only bring up in certain conversations. It’s the same with filtering things for the internet.
It’ll be interesting to see how these changes in skills end up affecting me once I return to my life in the US. On the other hand, I haven’t written an academic essay in forever and it’ll also be interesting to see how my soon-to-be return to academic learning works. haha