And just like that my study abroad trip is over. Looking back at a photo taken on my first night in Morocco when I stayed with a host family in Rabat, I am paradoxically mind-boggled.
On one hand, that night feels like yesterday since my trip went by so fast. But it also feels like forever ago because so much has changed since then. A month ago, I was a different person.
Everyone has a different study abroad experience, but here are a few general study abroad tips I can offer after my trip.
This isn’t meant to diss short-term programs, but I would highly recommend selecting a trip that lasts a minimum of a month. Mine lasted two weeks, which meant crammed and jam-packed days from beginning to end. Everything was rushed; there was hardly any time to relax and unwind. I loved my trip, but would have appreciated a longer program.
That may sound a little weird, but really, make time for yourself. On our trip we were so busy and constantly with everyone in the group. This left me little time throughout the day to pause and reflect on my surroundings. Later on, during our stay in Marrakech, I finally got some time to myself. We were visiting palace ruins and were given time to explore and told to meet up after an hour. I took advantage of this opportunity and broke off from the group. I sat in an area of the ruins and did absolutely nothing. It was the first time during the trip I felt peace. I left feeling rejuvenated.
You pay a ton of money for your plane ticket to get to your destination; you might as well travel to nearby places. It’s cheaper than flying all the way from the States, so it’s an opportunity ridiculous not to take. Talk to friends or other people in your program before leaving. See if they have plans to travel during or after the program. It’s probably better to go as a group, especially if it’s your first time abroad. I tried making traveling plans with two girls from my trip, but those fell through. However, I was lucky enough that a friend of mine was studying abroad in Spain. So I stayed two extra weeks, met up with her and others in Morocco for a few more days, and then traveled to Barcelona. I’m glad I made additional traveling happen. Going home after only two weeks would have felt too short.
When I was packing, I was torn between a medium-size and a large suitcase. I went with the large one because it gave me more wiggle room for souvenirs. Turns out I ended up buying a leather duffel bag in Marrakech anyway, and I had a silly amount of luggage space leftover. Try to not only pack lightly, but make sure you’re not overdoing it with the size of the suitcase either. You can always buy another bag when you get to your destination.
A near consensus in my study abroad group was everyone’s disappointment with the city of Marrakech. The girls already had predispositions about this tourist attraction—whether they came from online sources, offline media, or friends. When our idealized visions weren’t met, we couldn’t fully enjoy the experience. It’s silly, but I’d also say try not to Google images so often. Of course, the photos will make your destination look fabulous. But don’t forget that the romanticized portrait you might see has been edited, filtered, and photoshopped ten times over. Don’t get caught up in only the aesthetics. Just go into it with an open mind!
Bon voyage, friends! Thank you for reading my posts! And please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about study abroad. I’d be happy to help. 🙂