Taking a Moment to Breathe

Skylar Sundquist
March 5, 2020
A person standing on a cliff looking at the sunset while a wave crashes up onto the cliff

Amidst all the craziness that happened towards the end of my time in Morocco, I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It was hard not to - our student group chats were going off every day with updates on the coronavirus. News about coronavirus was constantly changing and evolving. Uncertainty swirled around us. My host family watched the news every day, and every day I heard how many cases of COVID-19 were in Morocco (at the time, there were very few).

My stressor was a pandemic. But honestly, there's always some stressor. If I wasn't stressed about COVID-19, I would have been stressed about something else. Missing home, school work, making new friends, or applying to medical school. No study abroad experience is free of stress, I just had a particularly unique time. 

One night I kept waking up to check the group chat, worried something had changed. I realized I was letting this stress get into my head too much. So, I muted the chat. I still kept up with the group chat, but only when I was in the right headspace to do so. I decided I needed to do something to release this stress.

I went to the beach, watched the sunset, and journaled. Going to the beach and watching the sunset was one of my absolute favorite things to do. I did it at least twice a week. I met a Moroccan who called it "sunset therapy." It was the perfect way to take a moment away from the craziness, collect my thoughts, and center myself.

The next day, I went to the hammam. The hammam is often described as a Moroccan bathhouse. It is a unique Moroccan experience, and I was dying to try it out. I had a feeling my time was limited so I decided to go. There are public hammams, where you have to bring your own supplies. Normally, people go with their host mom or host sister because the process is a little complicated. Since my host mom was not going with me, I went to a private hammam. At the private hammam, you get your own room and an attendant helps you through the process. It was a mix of a sauna, massage, and deep scrub. It melted the stress off of me. 

After the hammam, I met a few people at one of my favorite cafes (Café Renaissance). I treated myself to my favorite comfort foods. It was good to spend time with people and just talk about what was going on around us.  

As stress was building up all around me, I intentionally took a few two days to destress. It helped me stay sane amid all of the madness. When I was abroad, it was so important to take care of myself and cross a few things off my bucket list.  

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Skylar Sundquist

<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&nbsp;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>

Destination:
Term:
2020 Spring
Home university:
Hope College
Hometown:
Big Rapids, MI
Major:
Chemistry
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