Hello from beautiful Barcelona… or should I say Morocco!
We are midway through our 2017 NCSAC Barcelona Fall semester. Naturally, that can only mean one thing; time for an AIFS optional trip. This year, we decided on Morocco. 50 students, two faculty and two AIFS staff. A first for all students and a weekend they will never forget. Let’s see what they got up to:
From Spain to Morocco
After a few airport coffees and croissants to fuel our engines we boarded our plane to Malaga in the South of Spain. We met Abdel who was our guide for the weekend. He escorted us to the local ferry port for our departure across the Gibraltar Strait to the quaint seaside town of Ceuta, which is actually Spanish territory on the north coast of Morocco. We boarded our bus and met our driver and guide, Ahmed, who would be showing us around his beautiful country for the next two days and nights!
The sights and sounds of Morocco
Once we cleared the ferry port, with shiny new Morocco stamps in our passports, we set our watches back an hour and set off for the town of Tetuan for a lunch of delicious couscous, pinchitos, and Harera, all washed down with Moroccan mint tea. By now everybody had well and truly opened their eyes to what Morocco had to offer, the sights and sounds were so unusual and exotic, not to mention the very cute kittens that skipped past us as we wandered through the narrow streets. Our guide explained to us the history of his country while he walked us to a local natural pharmacy where we received a talk about some of the most famous Moroccan products they sell, including the world-famous argan oil.
A few hours later and we all made our way back to our coach armed with various natural products, leather bags, knitted sweaters and more. By now the students had well and truly become masters of negotiating and had haggled themselves some great bargains indeed! Upon arrival to our hotel we checked our bags in, washed up and sat down for another incredible Moroccan meal to cap off a great first day.
Saturday was our adventure day and after a filling breakfast we made our way towards Tangier, taking a panoramic bus tour of the city and the famous cave of Hercules. We also had a great photo opportunity with some happy camels! Riding camels on the beach was definitely a highlight for many and some great Instagram photos were certainly captured here; a real taste of North Africa!
Morocco and The Blue City
Once our new camel experts were back on the bus we ventured to the beautiful city of Chefchaouen, the ‘blue city’. After another great lunch we met our guide who explained the story behind this fascinating place and introduced us to one of the local manufacturers of sweaters, rugs and carpets. A truly unique learning experience for everybody. A few hours later and the students had explored the city themselves. They put their expert negotiating skills to the test and purchased more souvenirs and gifts. Another long but worthwhile day had passed.
We packed our bags, ate one more hearty breakfast in our hotel and bade farewell to our guide before heading towards the Moroccan border. As we received our exit stamp for Morocco and our entry stamp to Spain we could definitely feel a sense of sadness about leaving this unique country. It was amazing to see how this trip had changed the students perspective of travel and the world in general. Additionally, it was also great to see how at home they felt when we landed back to Barcelona.
It was certainly a weekend we will all never forget and I look forward to hearing of the students next journey back to Morocco – whenever that may be!
Tony Langan, AIFS Barcelona Student Advisor
The Northern California Study Abroad Consortium comprises of Contra Costa Community College District, Los Rios Community College District, San Mateo County Community College District, and Santa Rosa Junior College.
Each semester the Consortium sends one faculty member from each district to teach a semester in Europe with approximately 100 students. Each Spring is currently spent in Florence, with the Fall semester rotating between London, Paris and Barcelona.