Hannah Buckley, '18
Environmental Studies / Climate Change Studies
I made the best decision of my life when I chose to study abroad in Morocco the spring of my sophomore year. It was my first time out of the U.S., and I couldn’t have gone to a better place. Morocco is a country overflowing with culture, kindness and amazing opportunities just waiting to be taken. Some of my favorite memories came from exploring the sunny city of Tangier with my friends, shopping in the medina, and volunteering at the local orphanage. When you live alongside people that do not speak the same language as yourself, you learn how to communicate in new ways. With our growing Arabic skills and their broken English, my friends and I found shared languages with the people of Morocco in hand gestures, facial expressions and belly laughs. We learned more from these experiences in cafes, taxis and hanoots than we could have ever learned from sitting inside a classroom.
Studying took place outside of the university and brought us to places we had only seen before in pictures. We went on many excursions throughout Morocco and Spain and were even able to organize our own trips as well. One of my favorite trips we planned was to the Sahara Desert. After traveling hours by an overnight train to Marrakech and even more hours by van through the Atlas Mountains, we arrived in the afternoon to an endless landscape of golden sand. We all took turns sandboarding down the dunes before we watched the sun set over the desert. Sitting atop a towering sand dune below a pink sky made me feel as if I was on a different planet. This experience was one of the many times my decision to go to Morocco was reinforced and I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Studying abroad offered me more than I could have imagined and shaped me into the person I am today. I’ll never forget the memories I shared with the students who became friends that became family during my time in Morocco.