A Desire to Travel
I have never been north of Wisconsin, south of California, east of Washington DC, or west of Hawaii. In a week that will all change. I will embark on my first–and far from last–journey outside of the United States.
If you too are a girl born in the nineties, you remember The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a coming-of-age story of four teenage girls. Silly as it seems, watching that chick flick, I fell in love with the idea of traveling the world, as one of the main characters Lena travels to beautiful Greece over the summer. From then on I was hooked–I needed to experience that. (I suppose Lena’s handsome Greek lover Kostos inspired me too.)
Entering college, my abstract dream to travel matured into a concrete goal. Originally, I decided to limit my selection of study abroad possibilities to English-speaking destinations only. I feared throwing myself into a situation where I’d be completely helpless, and language barriers seem to be what travelers are most concerned about. Soon though I dropped this limitation and opened up a world of possibilities. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.)
When I received an email about a summer excursion to Morocco, I was immediately intrigued. Google image searches of Moroccan architecture enticed me with elaborate patterns and vivid colors. I explored many travel blog posts from and on Morocco and decided this beautiful destination was a place I had to see for myself.
Two of my goals while studying abroad:
- Get out of my comfort zone.
- Journal every day.
Simply trekking outside the United States itself, for me, is going outside my comfort zone. Then there’s the language barrier I had planned on avoid. The main languages of Morocco are Arabic and Berber… oops. I had this wild ambition to take a semester of Arabic at San Diego State. Then I realized that was a little crazy, so I purchased a mini “Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook & Dictionary” instead.
The unfamiliarity of Morocco encompasses more than just a language barrier. I’m not going to a vaguely familiar European country, but to a place that is completely foreign to me. Moroccan religion is 99% Muslim, whereas I’ve grown up in a country that’s predominantly Christian. I’m excited for the exposure to Muslim culture and lifestyle, and look forward to opening my mind and heart to the experience.
The second of my goals is to write in my journal daily, even if it’s just a quick jot at the end of the day. It’s important to keep in touch with how you’re feeling and note down your adventures to have something to look back on later. In the moment, experiences may seem unforgettable, but it’s those minute details you’ll smile about and reminisce on. Paradoxically, I feel this is even more important on such a short trip–I want to remember every moment.
Making it Happen
It wouldn’t surprise me if what holds a lot of people back from studying abroad was the price tag.
It can be difficult to even entertain the notion of study abroad if you’re already skidding by to pay tuition. Even my two-week trip is a financial burden. An international experience is a precious privilege, but it is also an invaluable one.
Students shouldn’t be discouraged by monetary strain. If you put in hard work, apply for scholarships and pick up a job–you can make it happen. Also, most people in your academic and personal circles–professors, advisers, friends, family–want you to succeed. I’m paying for my trip mostly with years of personal savings, some scholarship aid and minimal funds from my family and friends.
Get creative with funding! Good things don’t just happen; you have to work for them. Only you have the ability to make your travel dreams a reality.
Araka fi ma ba’d!