Friday, September 7, 2012

Study Abroad: Part I

What is study abroad?  For most people, it is the chance to take an Euro-trip, to party and sleep, to escape their home country.  For me, it's the chance to further my education. Granted, having the chances to explore, live in a new culture, and possibly learn a new language did help.

I came to the decision to study abroad because of two main points: I had a scholarship, and I had planned my credit hours.  I could have graduated early, I could have never gone on a study abroad trip.  However, I have always wanted to travel.  So, I made a decision to study abroad.

For me, my trip is, and will remain, inherently different because I chose my location based on what programs focused on journalism studies.  For me, my trip is special because I get to practice journalism.  For me, my trip is my own, because I am committed to Morocco.

Morocco is a country of contrasts.  Stereotypes include Sex and the City 2, Aladdin, and Casablanca.  The majority of people are Muslim, with some Christians and few Jews.  The languages most commonly spoken are Arabic, French and Spanish.  While many might say that the lack of English is a sign of dislike for the Western world, I believe it is a sign of personal preference.  Arabic as a language has been stable and around longer than English. 

My trip began with a flight from home to Atlanta, then Paris, and finally Rabat, Morocco via Air France.  Due to a slight miscalculation in timing, I arrived a full day before the program began.  There was only a 5 hour time difference, though some students have experienced an eight-hour change.

My first impressions involved a blinding sunlight, a small tarmac, and a vastness that reminds me of Vinita, Oklahoma.  The airport is in Sale, the twin city of Rabat, so named because the two cities are less then 20 minutes away from each other.  Palm trees dot the streets, and sand fills the cracks of sidewalks.

I ended up checking into the hotel, with the extensive help of a program assistant, and another student who came with us.  Once I unlocked my door and hoisted both my suitcase and my two carry-ons into the room, I took a deep breath.  I pushed back the wooden shutters, and I saw this.

My world has changed, shifted, spun on its axis.  No matter what cliche I could use, I will simply say this: Morocco may be my biggest challenge yet.  And I haven't even had coffee.

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