1 Month Later…

Remember me? That person who probably said they would keep in touch every day and make sure to send updates and photos of everything? Yeah I don’t know who that person is either. So, I figure this blogging thing will save me the hassle of actually reaching out to people (ugh, THE HORROR), and I can just let all of you know that I’m alive in an energy efficient, mass media takeover kind of way.

First off, I really have no idea how I ended up here. I originally was intended for Granada, Spain which didn’t happen because apparently the 2009 recession reaaaaaally hit Chapman hard. Then, I switched to try to get into a program in Abu Dhabi, but that turned out to be way too competitive. So, here I am, in the coldest part of Africa, studying politics and history and all that’s in between in Morocco.

I admit that I wasn’t excited at first to be going to Morocco. I was jealous of the friends who scored places like Italy and Spain and England without conflict or question, but thank the Universe for putting me in the best place that I could possibly be. I am in AFRICA. How crazy is that?!

To get you off started on the who’s who and the what’s what, here’s a (small) list of reasons why Morocco so far is the greatest place to study abroad:

  • Low pricing: I don’t think I can go back to the states after buying things here. Cheap is an understatement. Fruits and veggies can range from 5 dirhams (50 cents) to 20 dirhams (2 dollars) for a kilo or more. The prices here are so low that your most expensive meal will probably end up around 15 dollars. My bank account can finally rest easy for a few months.
  • People: all of you are so mean compared to the people I’ve met here. All jokes, but seriously I cannot believe the hospitality and generousness of those I’ve met here. Everyone goes out of their way to make both your experience and their experience great. The friendships I’ve already made here are so important to me already. And for some reason they seem to be heavily biased towards Libyans (like my habibi Yassin, my jadd Omar, my stupid bestie Sofian, Aymane the Moroccan who does everything Libyan, Soufian who is literally Kendrick Lamar, Zaaaaaaaroooooouk, love you all). Anyway, there isn’t a single person who hasn’t been anything less than perfect.
  • Food: don’t even get me started. I might cry. Look up tajine. That’s just the start. Think spices and rich flavours and lots of bread. And yes, I’ve tried camel meat. It tastes like sausage but better (I know, I hate myself for it too).
  • Setting: holy crap, I may never leave if I keep talking about this. Morocco has such a wide range of environments, and my school just happens to be in the coldest one. The nature here reminds me of Switzerland. Other places such as Meknes and Fez and Rabat are way busier and filled with a collision of cultures. The school is up in the Atlas Mountains surrounded by forrest and wildlife, and ironically feels more like the PNW than anywhere else. Another great place I’ve been to so far is Rabat, which was on the coastline and it filled my heart with the salt water and beachy smell.
  • Medinas and other old things: okay, wow, culture shock here. I realize how adjusted I am to the modern, Southern California setting because seeing things that are thousands of years old on a daily basis astonishes me. The medinas (markets) in which everyone shops in are filled with pottery, old instruments, miniature teapots, prayer rugs, and much more. It’s refreshing to be surrounded by years and years worth of history.
  • (sorry for shamelessly advertising how amazing this place is)

Besides the days in the medinas and the nights at the bar, classes (lol) are also going pretty well. So far my favorite classes are History of Cultures in Sub-Saharan Africa and Women in Society and Politics. It’s a treat getting an international prospective on domestic matters, and the diversity of students and opinions really makes it all worthwhile.

I really do miss California and Seattle and all my friends and family from the states. It’s been difficult knowing that you’re a phone call and a few too many timezones away (and the whole no-phone thing isn’t helping), but I think of you guys often and all the great memories and moments we’ve had together. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Especially for In N Out.

Even if it didn’t sound like it, I am truly grateful for this opportunity to be an exchange program and experience education in a whole new way. I know that not everyone is as fortunate, and I want to express my deepest thanks to all my loved ones have done in order to get me here. Everything that I do and accomplish here is a reflection on what you’ve taught me. I just came back from an Ash Wednesday service, and that brought out these feelings even more tonight over our discussions of humility and forgiveness and being thankful. Wow, do I appreciate you guys.

So I guess that’s all for now, and I’ll post something more when I travel to the blue city Chefchaouen next weekend. Or unless Aymane wants me to add something else or Sofian makes me mad (love you boo thangs). Just know that I’m safe, still without a phone, and enjoying every second.

All My Love,

Elizabeth Jane Leonhardt

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