Morocco: Traveling and Awakening!

The following post was submitted by Fall 2013 participant Madinatou Diallo. A student of International Relations at Mount Holyoke College, Madinatou spent her fall semester on AMIDEAST Education Abroad’s Area & Arabic Language Studies Program in Rabat, Morocco. In her submission, she reflects on her semester in Morocco.

When I think about the four months I spent in Rabat, happy memories flood through my head– lunch with friends in Agdal, spending too many hours in the Medina, breakfast with my roommate and host dad, kissing my host mom whenever I returned home, drinking tea with my family while the TV went on unnoticed– which makes me want to do it all over again. But in the back of my mind, I know that it is impossible to recreate the wonderful moments I had in Morocco. For one, it is highly unlikely that the friends I made from all over the United States will all be there again for four months.

Study abroad is supposed to be a time where students not only explore a different place and cultural but a time where they also learn about themselves and grow into global citizens with sophisticated views of the world. Before I traveled to Morocco, so many people felt that it was necessary to tell me to reconsider my decision. “The Arab world is scary and dangerous right now” they said. Well, after four amazing months in Morocco, I know that Morocco is neither scary nor dangerous and quite frankly it isn’t a country of only Arabs, contrary to the common belief of many Americans. Almost all of the Moroccan people are descendants of the Amazigh people, something I did not know prior to my trip.

It is often said that “to travel is to awaken”. In Morocco, I found the key to a box of memories I had thrown away 10 years ago. During a weekend trip to a Moroccan village, Zawiyat Ahansal, I was able to revisit my childhood memories and gain a profound understanding of who I was and what led to me being the person I am today and see a clear picture of who I want to be in the future. Throughout my time in Morocco, whether it was riding a camel through the Sahara or bargaining in the Medina, every day was spent learning and experiencing something wonderfully unique.

My study abroad in Morocco was the most intriguing, absolutely challenging at times, and astonishing experience of my life.  In addition to having the chance to study with smart and highly motivated students from across the US, I was put out of my comfort zone daily and part-took in classes with Moroccan professors whose teaching methods were completely different from what I am accustomed to at my home institution.  I had the opportunity to live with the most loving parents, whose dedication to helping me understand their cultural and feel comfortable in another’s home made such a great impact on my overall experience.

Over the last four months, I have come to realize that sometimes it is okay to take risks and go with the flow. I never planned to study abroad in Rabat. In fact, when I found out Morocco was my only choice at the time, I felt deceived and scared. However, today as I sit here and write my final blog post, I am so glad to have taken a risk with Morocco. In a way, I believe that Morocco chose me and I couldn’t be happier with my study abroad experience. It was all I dreamed of and then some more. My study abroad may have come to an end. However, the lessons I’ve learned will carry over to the rest of my life.  With that being said I’m ready to say goodbye to Morocco for now. I can only hope to return soon and make new experiences.

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