On Thursday (March 19) I bought a plane ticket back to the US. I started mentally preparing to leave Morocco. An hour after I bought the ticket - my route was canceled. Suddenly, it seemed like there were no more flights out of Morocco. I started preparing myself to stay in Morocco.
For the two weeks before I bought my flight, I was resistant to going home. I didn't think it was wise to run through airports with travelers from all over the world. And I was content staying with my host family. Another layer to my desire to stay in Morocco: international travel was becoming unpredictable. Some students who left earlier had a hard time getting onto flights. Morocco was implementing restrictions on international flights, which meant flights leaving Morocco were very limited. My flight getting canceled clearly showed travel was unpredictable. I jokingly told people I would only leave Morocco if the US government sent a flight for me.
I got the text in the IES Abroad group chat at 12:30 am on Friday (March 20) morning. It said the US government had chartered flights for United States citizens and permanent residents to go back to the US. I checked my email, and sure enough, I had an email from the U.S. Consulate. The email said flights would be leaving that Friday afternoon. One of the program leaders called me to make sure I was awake and signed up to take this flight home. Everyone was concerned if we didn't get on this flight, we wouldn't find another one to take us back to the US.
The flights were leaving from the airport in Marrakech. Our program leaders chartered a bus for us to take to the airport. We had to leave Rabat at 3 am to get to Marrakech early. We wanted to get there as early as possible to make sure we got on flights.
By the time our plans were finalized, it was 1:00 am. My host mom came to my room and asked me if I was leaving with the other students (as usual, she was talking to all the other host moms about what was happening). I said yes, and we hugged. Just the day before we were talking about how much I didn't want to leave. I think she knew how sad I was to be leaving Morocco.
I spent the next two hours packing up my stuff. I left my homestay in the medina with my neighbor and her host dad. We walked up to the Kasbah, where we were meeting the other students and getting on the bus. Our two program leaders came with us to Marrakech. I was happy they were coming with us because I didn't have the energy to navigate the airport by myself.
At the airport, I checked in with the US Consulate. Thankfully, everyone from IES was on the same flight. We said goodbye to our program leaders and went through security. A flight took us from Marrakech to London. We spent the night at a London airport. When we got off the flight, some people were issued information about their flight to the US the next day. When I got off the flight, I was not issued flight information for the next day. I wondered if I would get stuck in London. Thankfully, I got an email on Saturday at 3 am saying my flight to Chicago would leave at noon.
When I got to Chicago, the CDC had a health checkup set up for all the travelers to go through. I got the okay and was told to self-quarantine for the next 14 days. My fiance picked me up from the airport and brought me home to self-quarantine.
Those two days were the craziest in my life. I found out I was leaving Morocco, packed my stuff, spent the night in London, flew to Chicago, and went home. I was incredibly thankful for the support from the Rabat IES Abroad staff. They made sure we were safe and were awake at all hours of the night for us. The experience would have been 1,000 times harder without their help.
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<p>Hi! I'm Skylar. I'm a senior at Hope College, majoring in Chemistry on the premed track. The semester I study abroad is my last semester and I will graduate (and apply to medical school) when I come back to the States! I am thrilled I get to study abroad before I graduate. I am so excited to share the adventures I have while I study abroad in Rabat, Morocco with you all. After 3.5 years of all science all the time, I am looking forward to taking a break and explore Morocco with IES Abroad. I am most looking forward to learning Arabic and living with a host family.<br><br>Fun Fact: A few summers ago I drove from Michigan to California to hike in Yosemite and see a total eclipse!</p>