I could feel the exhaustion take over. Even though I was thrilled to be on the other side of the world, embarking on my adventure of studying abroad in Morocco, the fifteen-hour journey from Boston to Tangier had taken its toll. But even though I was just plain tired and wanted a nap, I slapped a smile on my face and soldiered on.
Everyone was waiting around the looping W conveyor belt for the checked luggage to begin spilling out from the back room. Fortunately, since the Tangier Ibn Battouta airport is small, it didn’t take long for our luggage to come out. After a few minutes, I finally saw my dark grey and blue detailed suitcase come around the corner. I waited for one of my friends to retrieve her luggage before we went through the final security check. As I lugged my suitcases onto the bag scanner, I felt my eyelids start to droop, my exhaustion almost overcoming me.
I was startled when a tall man with a goatee appeared out of nowhere, welcoming me to Tangier like he had known me all my life.
“Come with me,” he gestured for my friend and I to follow.
I was confused—how did he know I was from UNE?—only to realize I was wearing a t-shirt with an enormous UNE logo printed on the front. I followed this mystery man as he led us to a group of people whom I recognized from my school. This man was a whirlwind as he started to ramble on about a big bus waiting to whisk us off to our new homes for the semester.
I like this guy, I thought, even if I didn’t even know his name. I turned to one of the students in the huddle and asked what was the man’s name.
“Oh, that’s Mourad! He’s the UNE campus manager. Our dad in a sense.”
I looked over towards Mourad once again and saw he was greeting more students trickling through the security check. I softly grinned at his Oscar-worthy smile lighting up everyone’s’ faces. I even noticed the change in myself: my exhaustion gave way to giddy excitement. I was looking forward to seeing that smile every day for the next few months.