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The Atlantic from a Different Light: Morocco

by Candice Kalil

My most recent trip was an excursion to Morocco to visit the towns of Tangier, Chefchaouen, Tétouan, and Asilah. The trip started off with a bus to a boat to another bus to reach the town of Tangier.

Once we got to Tangier I realized how much of an entirely different world I was in. There were aspects of the lifestyle that were tricky to get used to. The culture was completely different, from the dress, the style of the buildings, the food and the atmosphere. My favorite part was a lookout point off of a cliff near the beach that looked out over the Atlantic Ocean. But this time I was on the other side of how I normally see it. I live in Rhode Island, only two blocks from the beach, so it was crazy to see the ocean I am so familiar with from such a different perspective.

What I liked about the trip was that we were able to visit several different cities, my favorites being Chefchaouen and Asilah. Chefchaouen is located up in the mountains with its winding blue cobalt streets and markets. Another different cultural aspect of Morocco was bargaining; whenever you bought something, you had to haggle the price. Chefchaouen had many markets to buy blankets, clothing and souvenirs. The architecture and structure of the city was gorgeous and similar to the seaside town of Asilah. Asilah was similar to Chefchaouen with its blue walls but it was situated right on the water with a gorgeous beach. I could go back there in a second. The weekend in itself was full of adventure with exploring, quaint cities, camels and good company.

After coming back from this trip, reality began to hit and I had the “my study abroad experience ends in a month, what is life…” moment frequently over the past few days, sending me through the biggest mix of emotions I could have. This is what I can tell you about going abroad:

Being abroad is where you learn more about yourself and your comfort zone, and how challenging yourself can be the most difficult and most rewarding thing you can do.  

morocco camels study abroadThere is a reason its coined experiential learning. Yes you have classes and are there for school; but the amount you learn outside of the classroom is far more valuable than anything. I could tell you all the history facts about the empires of Granada and the Catholic monarchs who took over the city. I have learned so much about Latin America and Spain. I have an amazing Spanish professor so I have learned a lot about the language, both inside and outside of the classroom. I will tell you that you will take away more from a semester abroad, both in and out of the classroom, than you will from anything you have ever experienced. I have been the most independent I have ever been, the most challenged I have ever been and, most of all, I have never felt more like myself.
You learn a lot from all the different adventures you have. I learned my body will never ever like foods with tons of spices, but will never see the day that it doesn’t love a chocolate croissant. I learned sleeping on the floor of an airport to catch a morning flight was incredibly tiring, but it was one of the best trips with great friends. I learned that I am not invincible, still hobbling when I came to Europe after fracturing a leg, and that the feeling of finishing a hike, with views that are out of this world, has never made me more grateful. I learned that immersing myself in a culture where I hardly understood the language was the most challenging thing I could do for myself, and the most rewarding.

 

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