Seven Things I Learned In Morocco


Marissa Laramie, EIC

I. Take In Each and Every Moment Possible

One of the first things I realized when I got settled back at home was that the last five months had flown by. I knew I had a limited amount of time to take in such a massive country and culture, so I tried to be more mindful. However, I learned that it’s important to do this at home too. Now that I’m a senior, I find myself trying to make the most of everything as I did abroad.

One night, I stood on my balcony looking at the golden sunset I had seen over and over by now. The same call to prayer singing off each mosque, the same buildings, the same cats curled up bellow. “Wow,” I thought, “I never want to forget this feeling. I want to bottle it up and take it home to take little swigs of comfort from.  It could’ve been another normal sunset, but it was a moment of peace and happiness for me. It’s so important to make those moments abroad and at home.

II. Home Isn’t A Place, It’s A Feeling

We talk about where home is a lot. “Where are you from?” is almost always one of the first things people ask. While I was in Tangier, I realized something important. I saw that “home” isn’t where you live or sleep, it’s where you feel happy, safe, and comfortable. It’s familiar, and it’s where you long for when you’re away. It doesn’t need to be one place, like your hometown, but places that are important to you and give you that sense of life.

III. Say “Yes” More, Be More Outgoing

Now, I’m not saying “say yes to that 3000 dirham rug or 50 euro plate”, but yes to the experiences and opportunities you are given! Your friends want to go to the Kasbah? Go ahead and join! You have the option of going to the on-campus event? Do it, and enjoy it! Not only will you have once in a lifetime experiences and make amazing memories, but you’ll meet equally as great people! The winds of Tangier blew my closest friends and I together one-by-one. Nothing else would’ve brought us all together, but the streets of the Medina, long car rides across the Kingdom, and mint tea at cafes did.

IV. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

In fact, I encourage it! Learn about where you’re going and what their society and traditions are. It’s better to be prepared and to understand what’s going on around you. Of course, if you “mess up” somehow, it’s not the end of the world. Most people are very understanding. However, most people are also more than happy to educate you before that happens. Moroccans were always more than happy to help me with my Arabic, or tell us about their practices. Sharing those moments was one of the most important parts of traveling for me. By talking to people and being willing to learn, you’ll gain so much more knowledge than you expected, and you’ll learn more about yourself in the process.

V. Cultural Appreciation Is Polite:

Cultural appropriation, such as wearing significant pieces without knowledge of what they are and symbolize, is a matter of concern for many people. It can be hard to discern where the line is drawn between appropriation and appreciation. However, in an appropriate

setting, you should absolutely partake in traditions and wear cultural clothing!

I had the honor of partaking in some bridal traditions with the other girls on campus. Part of this was getting henna. When I went to work a few days later, one of the nurses grabbed my hands. “Ooh! Zwina henna!” she said as she turned my hands to look at it. She was happy, and showed her friend who had just gotten married and had some as well. They were happy I was experiencing what they do and learning about their culture. 

VI. We Aren’t So Different:

When I met my friends in Morocco, I was surprised to see we were pretty similar in our interests. We liked soccer and fashion, and taught each other the dances we knew. We listened to each other’s music and found we had similar tastes. To this day, I still keep in touch with a few people from back in Morocco and keep up with even more. I didn’t know why I was surprised, but it’s easy to be when you live a world away. It was a good reminder we are all human at the core, people doing what they love. It’s easy to judge a book by it’s cover, and it’s even easier to be ignorant to assumptions you may not even realize you have, but it’s so important to step back and remember that at our core, we are all human. 

VII. Be Open To New Ideas:

You will be faced with ideas and opinions that may not be the same as yours. While you don’t need to agree with the person, you need to be respectful. You’re in a new environment with different norms and expectations, as a guest. You’re not there to push yours on them, just like you don’t need to adopt theirs. Challenging yourself to be more open, in my opinion, makes you a more well-rounded individual. However, there are things you’ll see as bad and you just need to take it as it is. This is a very important lesson to take with you everywhere you go, especially in times like these.