Sunday, December 23, 2012

Study Abroad: Part 28 [Instant Connections]

The things that I dislike about travel? Let's see: jet-lag, pickpockets, traveler's diarrhea...

The things that I love about travel?  Instant connections.

Now, before you freak out, let me explain: I'm not talking about hook-ups or sex, or love at first sight.  Remember that scene in Fight Club, when he's talking about "single-serving friends"?

I found this via Google.

That's what I mean.  When I say an instant connection, I'm talking about that moment when you somehow can connect with this person you have never seen before, who has somehow stumbled into your life, and who may or may not be in your life after this exact moment.  This person, who may be in your head, who may be the leader of an underground resistance group, who may possibly want to see the world burn, this person is your connection.  To what? Who cares, just embrace the moment.

The other day, I read something that quite frankly terrified me.  "You have only 10 years to enjoy your 20s." That is 3,652 days to enjoy hangovers, a faster metabolism, the lack of responsibility that comes with kids and a mortgage.

And that is why I'm all for the instant connections I make.  A few of them have been awkward and terrifying, but most of them have been amazing.

The Spanish-Chinese shopkeeper in Tarifa, who through some miraculous act spoke Mandarin Chinese, and helped convert my American dollars into euros, so I could get on a bus and catch up to my friends...

The British man (whom shall be known as B) who spoke to Re and me, going on about how he was still in love with his wife, how we (Re and me) were still young so he'd buy us drinks...

The German girls I met, who were teaching young children and ended up so exhausted at the end of the day, yet so full of enthusiasm, and wanting to explore the city...

Every single person who has spun in and out of my life has somehow made an impact on me.  Whether that moment of interaction will somehow reflect on my life, I can't say for sure quite yet.

But these quick interactions are worth it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Study Abroad: Part 27 [And So It Goes... The Final Countdown]

Six.  That is the number of days left in Morocco.  Right now, I'm back at Hotel Velleda, the hotel where I started this crazy adventure.  Before I met everyone, I was worried.  After all, I hadn't met them before or gone onto their Facebook pages before I arrived (thank you China for internet censorship).  And now, I kinda don't want to say goodbye.

But in six days, I hop onto a plane at 6:40, the morning of December 15, and head back to the States.  At that point in time, I then have approximately 23 days to finish my Belgium visa application process before I go study abroad in Belgium... They told me to plan for four weeks to process my visa, but I have to apply for the visa in the United States.  Also, I didn't have access to the necessary paperwork until I got to Morocco.  Therefore, oops?

So anyways, that's what is ahead of me.  What lies in the ruins of last week: edit upon edit upon edit, my completed ISJ, finding a printer, participating in the mad dash of rabble-rousing and farewell parties, and moving out of the medina apartment.

To be honest, I regret nothing. Sure, there have been a few hair-raising moments (like witnessing a fight outside a club), moments where I wanted to scream (like arguing with our former landlady who swore she'd make us pay 2000 dirhams and would call the cops if we didn't leave at 11 in the morning, even though we told her we would leave at noon), and moments of pure apathy and exhaustion (where I essentially feel like I'm experiencing finals from across the world: sleep deprivation, frustration, and wondering where I went wrong with my life choices).

But it's been worth it.  My soundtrack has been: laughing, crying, shouting, screaming.  I've been sick, been homesick, been (almost) lovesick, and been cured.  I'm looking forward to fast internet connection, hot water showers with high pressure, walking down the street without harassment and eating Chinese food.  I'll miss couscous on Fridays, two or three hour long coffee/tea breaks, feeling salt spray on my face, and my friends.

And despite everything that's happened, I can honestly say that, when I'm looking back on my Facebook photos and everything else, I can say that "Yeah, I totally did that."

Moi and my final project (in a pretty blue folder).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Study Abroad: Part 26 [To Run Away, but for a day]

It's December and I'm a horrible person. Not really. But kinda.  I'm desperately trying to procrastinate on this final project because I am DEAD worried... It's taking a very long time to come together and I need to take a break.

So, my plan is to run away (for a day).  Day trip anyone?

The first place I'm thinking of is Chellah.  Chellah refers to a city of ruins are near Rabat, actually located across the riverbank at Sale.  Every year, the Jazz of Chellah music festival takes place there.  The cemetery has a few interesting tidbits and legends associated with it. Also, it's close, my friends have made it sound interesting to me, and I honestly just need to get out of the city.

The second place I'm considering is Volubilis.  It's an ancient Roman city near Meknes that is partially excavated.  Yeah, it's more ruins.  Yeah, it's kinda far.  But what makes it interesting to me is two-fold: it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Arch of Caracalla is the most notable structure in the city.  Google it for some more history.

I would go to El Jadida.  It's only about two hours away from Rabat, and it's on the beach, which makes it seem very pretty.  At the same time though, the water is freezing cold (we're in the middle of winter and the rainy season in Morocco), and I have a feeling that the rain is probably going to come down hard soon.

At the same time though, I might just stay in Rabat.

The places that I hang out at are so much fun.  Granted, they're all in Agdal, which is the more European and expensive part of town.

Bert's has good cheesecake (for 23 dirhams), and the gingerbread latte (21 dirhams) is definitely one of my favorite hot drinks.  The atmosphere is kind of loud at night, but during the day, it's a great place to study.  They even have sandwiches in case you get hungry.

When I want something else sweet, I go to Chez Paul.  It's fancy French, but the chocolate desserts are to die for.  Literally.  I have had raspberry macarons, tried the gelato, and even had their chocolate torte.  They have their own bakery, and they're going to try making cupcakes soon. I hope I get a chance to try them before I leave!

[Side note: I found cupcakes (REAL CUPCAKES) in Casablanca.  The store is called "J'adore Cupcakes", located inside the Twin Centers, and even has mini-cheesecakes.]

The Casablanca (vanilla-vanilla and a gummy heart on top) cupcake, and the mini-cheesecakes.

Upstairs is an Irish pub/bar, located on Avenue Michliffen, has this drink that I really like, called VK Apple (Vodka Kick) that tastes like Smirnoff Apple.  It also has great rock music and this live band on Fridays.

When I want to dance, it's either Yakout's, which has a ton of reggae and is a bar/dance floor, or Amnesia, which is a full-blown club that I would expect to see in a place like New York.

But, to be completely honest, my favorite place is probably Le Cotton Club. Ohmyfreakinggawwwd. I love this place.  It's classy, but also kla$$y.  This is where I tried sambuca for the first time.  This is live music, hot dogs, and where I met most of my Moroccan friends.  Honestly, I love this place.

So, who knows.  I might run away for a day, or I might stay my last week in Rabat and finish up this project.