Marruecos (morocco)

Michelle Saylor
April 1, 2019

There is truly no way to fully capture our trip to Morocco. I have been on MANY organized trips and I can say with full confidence that this was the absolute best organized trip I have ever had the privilege to experience. In order to not blabber on for pages and pages, I wanted to break this up into my top three highlights:


DARNA is the women’s association in Tangier. We got a tour of the facility, in which they provide free literacy and practical skill classes for women all over the city. After our tour, we got a chance to sit and eat lunch with three very different women. All around the same age; one was much more traditional, wearing a hijab and studying Islam; one was more moderate, not wearing a hijab however still holding some traditional political views; and one was more liberal, also not wearing a hijab and studying translation. We had an open dialogue where we had the chance to ask any questions we wanted and these women could respond. It was an incredible experience to be able to sit in such an open environment where curiosity was welcomed. We had the chance to dispel stereotypes, ask about women’s rights and lifestyles, discuss the current politics, and anything else we wanted over a wonderful lunch of chicken tagine. I feel incredibly grateful to have had that opportunity and it will be something I remember for a long time.


Probably my favorite part of this trip was getting two hours to walk around and speak with students our own age from Rabat. I give IES Abroad a ton of credit for pairing us with students who study English and letting us roam around Rabat for about two and a half hours. We were split into small groups of three to four (mine was three) and were matched with two to four Moroccan students between the ages of 18-22. These students had volunteered from their school to participate so they all very genuinely wanted to be there. With no adults looming or supervisors, we had free range of dialogue. My group walked around, we went to the beach, walked around the open markets and ended by getting smoothies. We talked about everything under the sun from dating before marriage, to night life, to goals for the future, to potential travel plans, to family life—everything. It was an unparalleled experience. And the best part is that at the end, we all sort of realized that we are the same. We are all just trying to save the planet and do something good in the world and make a difference in any way we can. We are all trying to find a balance between pleasing our parents, while having our own fun, while also being a good person and finding a career we’re passionate about.

It makes the media feel so false in the way it portrays Africa. They are all very active on Instagram and have full lives. It is so special and important to see that while, yes, we may have differences, we have more things that bring us together than pull us apart. And if this is true with these kids in Morocco, you can bet that applies to our generation all over the world.


I must say I lucked out a lot with my homestay. I was staying with two other girls in what felt like a palace. Our host Grammy was so sweet and gave us so much food we could barely walk (the best strawberries I’ve ever had in my life). She hugged us and kissed us every morning! The entire family was very welcoming and excited to have us in their home. Our host brother was the one who spoke English, so he was how we communicated with the family. He is a 15-year-old boy who loves to snapchat and blast to EDM (electronic dance music) after call to prayer. He watches gossip girl and was so happy to talk to us about his life in Rabat. We had our own room and always hot coffee and a western toilet (that was the real win). I have no complaints! It was such a positive experience—I really lucked out in the family I was given so that was a huge highlight for me.  


I want to say that I have been on PLENTY of group trips in my life. I have traveled to countries, states, towns and everything in between with groups of people on organized programs and I can absolutely say this was the best organized trip I have ever been on. I give IES Abroad so much credit for coordinating such an intense trip that gave us the opportunity to be immersed in Moroccan culture while being respectful but also being given the room to push the envelope and ask questions freely. It dispelled so many stereotypes and misconception for so many people on my trip, and I feel so humbled to have been able to participate in this trip. If you’re a prospective IES Abroad Granada student and uneasy about the Morocco trip, I promise it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Huge shouts to IES Abroad for planning all of this!!!!!!

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Michelle Saylor

<p>I love to laugh and think that's sometimes the best medicine. I spent this past summer dissecting human brains in a lab and the summer before that being an over-night counselor for eighteen twelve-year-old girls. I love to produce music and foster dogs. I took psychophysics class my very first semester by mistake (the pre-requists were calculus and physics: neither of which I had taken so it's still unclear who let<br>me into that class) which was truly the hardest class of my life but I stayed in it the whole semester and worked harder than I ever previously had and wound up doing well - still proud of that one! There are a lot of parts to me, and I'm happy to keep figuring them all out!</p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
Brandeis University
Needham, MA
Health Studies
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