Why Study Abroad


Jack Allsopp


I just got back from the Sahara Desert. A sentence I never thought I would be able to say. Still hasn’t sunk in that those words can leave my mouth and be true. I have traveled nearly every single weekend that I have been abroad studying in Morocco, based in the port city of Tangier. First starting in Tetouan where I saw a man do a traditional Moroccan dance wearing a platter of candles atop his head. Then to Chefchaouen, where I got lost in a sea of blue walls and hiked into a valley, to wander upon a waterfall oasis under the might of mountains. I ventured out of the country next, all the way to Munich, Germany where I partook in the festivities of Octoberfest, after exploring the Nymphenburg Palace. The next weekend came sooner as I took the midnight train to Marrakesh on a thursday night, where I enjoyed Mint Tea overlooking the Medina where earlier I had a snake slither around my shoulders. Leading up to my most recent trip, the Sahara Desert, where I think my entire life peaked. I took a camel, backpack strapped to my back, into the dunes where civilization disappeared from view. Near to our campsite, I took up sandboarding and after, filled the afternoon reconnecting with my inner child, playing in the world’s largest sandbox. For sunset, me and few friends hiked to the largest dune in the section of desert we resided, and watched the sun meet the sand, illuminating the dunes with it’s orange light. That night, I got up at two am to watch the stars, receiving the most vivid view of the milky way I had ever seen. Those are just some of the highlights, as I could already write a book on my experiences traveling.

Because of my decision to study abroad, I have been able to experience all of that and so much more. The travel opportunity is wildly more available then within the states, as many trips here around Morocco are planned for us and included as apart of the semester. The weekends we are free, I plan trips around Europe, using the short distance to my advantage for prices that are unheard of back home. For example, my last trip, Madrid, costed forty four dollars for a round-trip flight. And if that you still aren’t convinced about the travel, I have a trip planned for every single weekend up until the first weekend of December. It’s only the beginning the October. But travel isn’t the only reason.

Learning a new language, in the very place it is spoken, gives me such a deeper appreciation for it. I am taking a intro to Arabic course     here twice a week. Being within a city that uses that as their primary language is great for practice, as i’m able to use it all the daily during my journey’s to restaurants, or my weekly visit to the Medina. Being able to communicate with a person who speak another language than English, is underestimated in the satisfaction it gives you. The people here love that we are trying to learn Arabic, as when you speak it to them, they are pleasantly surprised as they show you a smile and speak basic phrases back.

The food. Plain and simple, or actually, made with various spices and deliciously complicated. The food you try abroad, made in the place it originates, puts it’s American made counterpart to shame. I’ve had tagine here a lot, as it’s a very common tradition dish. It gets its name from the bowl it is cooked in and is commonly made with chicken or beef, often with a couscous base and filled with plenty of vegetables. Being abroad, opens your mouth to completely new flavors and food combinations that blow your taste buds right off your tongue.

Pastilla is my favorite Moroccan dish, as it combines sweet and spicy in a way I would have never imagined. It’s a flaky bread pastry that is often filled with fish, beef, or chicken seasoned in a variety of spices, topped with sugar and cinnamon. But don’t worry, international food is never far, as you can find anything your heart desires in a city like Tangier, where my campus is.

Being away from America, I hear no news about it, unless I purposely look it up. Now you may ask why that is a good thing. It’s a good thing because you don’t realize how much of a distraction news is until you are oblivious from it. No drama from politics, no nightly news telling of the unfortunate events of that day, and no ads for car insurance, it’s fantastic to get a break from it all. But enough about the news, what really is so special about being with a culture that has always viewed America from the outside, you get a understanding of how we are judged and understood by the rest of the world. Sometimes it’s for better or for worse, but it’s eye opening as from what I have gathered. America really is one of the most talked about nations on the planet, but I don’t want to spoil too much, as the fun part is getting is gaining that understanding.

Study Abroad. Do it. Don’t think twice, don’t focus on what you would be missing at home, because trust me, they will all be jealous of all the fun you are having out here. I realized this was the best decision I have ever made only in the first week, I have now been here over a month with more months to go, and I’m still thriving off that feeling