ISEP student Virginia B. is a part of ISEP Voices Spring 2016. She is a political science major from Hamline University, and is currently studying abroad at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco.
As I enter the final month of my study abroad experience, I find myself reflecting on the time that I have spent here, trying to make heads or tails of the past four months. I know that as soon as I go home, my family, friends and potential employers will ask, "So, what was the best part of studying abroad?“
Over the past four months I have seen and experienced so many amazing things, things I never expected to see and experience. I have walked through the Roman ruins of Volubilis, drank mint tea on a terrace overlooking Bab Mansour in Meknes and haggled with shop owners at the tanneries in Fez.
I have hiked the mountains of Akchour, immersed myself in the blue city of Chefchaouen and rode camels on the beach of Tangier.
With my Interfaith group, I attended a national conference in Rabat, heard stories from Algerian monks in Midelt and bought rugs from women in a non-permanent settlement called Tarmilat near my school in Ifrane. This is not to mention all of the adventures I had in Europe, so how do I condense all these experiences into a single statement about studying abroad?
Then I thought about the one thing that was a common denominator through everything I have done during this semester (no, it isn’t the mint tea, although I could sing its praises all day). My experiences would have been nothing without the people I traveled with and met along the way.
I would by no means say that my time here in Morocco has been easy, that would be a discredit to myself and all the time I have spent here. I have combated loneliness and aching for home every step of the way, but those steps were made infinitely easier with my friends by my side.
As an introverted, shy girl who has never lived outside her home state of Minnesota, my biggest fear was that I would not find any friends that would want to spend time with me. However, when we were all thrown together at orientation, it was a do or die situation. I mustered up my courage and reached out to the people around me. Little did I know that that would be the best decision I’ve made in my life.
The friends I have made here are the kindest, most generous and genuine people I have ever met in my life. Although we have only known each other four months, they are as close to me as my family (we have an inside joke that we are a family and refer to each other as such). They also teach me so much about life from their perspective and together we are able to have thoughtful discussions about the world we are experiencing together. Without them, I do not think studying abroad would have had nearly the same impact.
So when people ask me what the best part of study abroad was, I can give them a truthful answer: becoming a part of a global society with the best people by my side. I cannot express the amount of love I have for "The Children of the Flower Power.” Thank you all for making study abroad the best time of my life.
Are you ready to study abroad? Find out more about all of your options on the ISEP website.
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