Why every student abroad in Europe should try and make their way to Morocco
Posted by Andy Steves in on May 5, 2015..
There are some places in the world that every travel site or every traveler strongly recommends visiting in Europe: (most of them are covered by WSA’s trips!) Prague, Paris, Greece, Rome… The list goes on and on. One country that gets a handful of students but seems to be underrepresented is Morocco, on the northern coast of Africa. Since most study abroad students are learning in another country to receive a globalized outlook of the world, traveling to this country is the perfect fit.
Fortunately, I can say that I’ve been to Morocco twice: last semester, my home university’s program went through Moroccan Exchange and spent four days in Rabat, Chefchaouen, and Tangier. Just this past weekend, I spent four days in Marrakech, Amizmiz, and Essaouira where I was able to learn a lot about Islamic culture and life in a developing country all at once.
What was probably the most pleasant surprise on both of these trips was the overwhelming generosity of the students and host families that we encountered in such a small time frame. The people that you meet on these organized trips to Morocco want to share their culture with you and eliminate the stereotypes and prejudices faced by Muslims from what American media displays on a daily basis. Being able to talk with them about their religion, their culture, and social practices gets rid of the confusion or fear one might come across before entering an Islamic country. Simply put, it’s impossible not to gain a new meaning of Islam and understanding the daily life in a developing country. You truly appreciate everything that you have been presented, and is a fantastic experience.
I also had the opportunity to meet Peace Corps volunteers based in Morocco, so you have the chance to learn about what the Peace Corps does, the different sectors you can choose to work in, and reflections from fellow Americans living in Morocco. While I’m not entirely sold on signing up for the Peace Corps, it’s not a bad option for students who are thinking about taking a “gap year” from grad school. Your placement lasts for 27 months, and you have a remarkable experience to put on your resume, which could give you an upper hand in applying for government positions.
I could continue listing off the perks of visiting Morocco, but I’d like to leave students with a desire to go there and see for themselves what this country has to offer. Morocco is a truly unique country with French, Spanish, and Arabic influences all over, and will leave you wordless (I still can’t adequately describe my trips there). My only advice is to go in with an open mind, and you’ll be amazed at what you get out of your trip.
I definitely have WSA to thank for my exceptional experience in Amsterdam. One would think 4 days isn't enough to tour a city but WSA facilitated an optimum weekend full of sightseeing and fun. Amsterdam may have a notorious reputation for its lax drug and sex culture but there’s so much more to the city. Luckily, our tour guide, Arthur, native to the Netherlands, steered us away from the tourist traps and showed us around his beloved city, highlighting all of its gems. I'd definitely like to try other WSA trips in the future. It's hassle free traveling with an awesome itinerary - nice that the tour guides are flexible with the schedule and willing to cater the itinerary to the group's interest! Highly recommend WSA to any student with only a weekend to see a city.Lauren Wallender, Elon University ~ Fall 2014
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