Out of Rabat and onto Europe! After an amazing semester in Morocco, I decided to end my time in a way indicative of my stay; traveling! Saying goodbye to everyone in Morocco was bittersweet, but the closeness of my cohort instilled in me a belief that our paths would likely cross again. It’s weird not being around them every day, of course. There were only fifteen of us, so I would be lying if we didn’t all become strangely codependent on each other. Even on the weekends, travel was almost always accompanied by anywhere between two and ten other students from my program. It’s strange seeing new places without them. It’s also strange going to new places and knowing I won’t have to return Monday morning by 8:30 for my daily Modern Standard Arabic class, something that has become as ever-present as the sun.
There’s been some culture shock, of course. As I’ve started my gallivanting through the North, I’m always shocked at how many people speak English. Though I’ve been in Italy and both the French and German parts of Switzerland, I’ve yet to encounter a single person who couldn’t interpret what I was saying. While this has been incredibly convenient, it’s so different from Morocco where when people speak a second language, it’s likely French. There are a fair amount of English speakers, but you're likely to encounter them in more formal situations, less so in day-to-day life. I’ve become somewhat used to talking loudly in English to my friends, and anticipating that I will go un-understood, which is just not a safe bet in Europe. In Geneva, I turned to my friend and said, “Look how forlorn that man looks!” To a man staring forlornly at the lake and he turned and stared at us. Oops! Definitely not in Rabat!
The price differences are also killer. Everything in Morocco is so cheap in comparison to Europe. A hostel that costs forty USD a night anywhere in Europe wouldn’t be pushing five USD in Morocco. A 10 dirham cappuccino (1 USD) has quickly turned into 5 euros, to my deepest chagrin. I’m not even close to emotionally prepared to return to Washington DC, where a drink at Starbucks is 7 dollars on a good day. Living in such an affordable location for my study abroad really enabled me to save my money for weekend travel, which was fantastic. Still, now that I’m traveling for longer periods of time I’m starting to feel just how expensive travel truly is!
Morocco is already starting to feel slightly like a dream. Almost everyone else from my program has returned to the States. They send pictures of dogs I’ve heard tales of, siblings I know from FaceTime calls, locations I’ve seen in photos. On our program's Instagram, they’ve already started posting new students there for the summer. My imprint on the country was so fleeting, the people I met have carried on, the places I frequented still roll on without my presence. Nevertheless, the country has changed me in ways I’m only just starting to discover. After all has been said and done, I’m excited to meet the person I am now, after such a life-changing experience.
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Zoe Carver is a second-year student of International Affairs and Peace Studies at the George Washington University, minoring in French and Creative Writing. She is originally from Portland, Oregon and is apart of GW's Literary Magazine, Model UN team, and Student Climate Coalition. She just finished a positon interning in the United States Senate, and has a deep love for crocheting.