My experience during my study entailed visiting both France and Morocco. In France we were able to visit many different places as it pertained to its history. In France we also learned a lot about the Islamic religion, Christianity, and Judaism which was a preface to what we would actually be able to experience in Morocco.
If you ask my closest friends, they will tell you I am a very “bougie” guy. But that was far from true in my opinion. I began to realize my “bougie” traits during my trip to France and Morocco. We would go to extremely nice restaurants although the food was subpar, and transfer to different hotels almost 5 times a week. This was very exhausting but at the same time I was “living my best life”. Instead of living in middle class homes and eating home food for most of the trip, we would stay in 3-5 star hotels and eat at the finest restaurants in town. Living like that came natural to me (although I was somewhat unfamiliar with it) and now I don’t see myself living any other way after my study abroad experience. Also, the experiences that I have had while being on that trip is something that not everyone gets the opportunity to have, which makes me even more “bougie” in other individuals eyes.
While I was in France, I had the opportunity to visit the Eiffel Tower. As I stood on top of the Eiffel Tower and stared down into the streets of Paris, France with all of its beautiful history-rich architecture, I knew that in that moment anything was possible for me and that I was extremely fortunate because not everyone gets to have that experience abroad.
I was also discovered that being in the presence of the history that you are being taught about is the best way to learn. I was so used to being taught in classrooms and taking notes and having to study these notes which was the best way for me to learn at the time. But since my experience abroad, being in the presence of what you are being taught is more engaging and more interesting which forces everyone to be more attentive and learn. For example, in France we stood outside the Notre Dame and had a tour guide take us around the building explaining the carvings in the building and the history behind it. I think I remember everything she said word for word.
My education abroad was very interesting as I was able to witness certain thing first hand; such as the difference in norms between Europe and America, and traditions within the Islamic community in Morocco and also having to conform to them out of respect for the people that resided there. I came into this program not knowing that much about other cultures except for my own, Christianity. Things that certain cultures did would always leave me in wonder because I never understood why they did certain things, and how. But this trip taught me so much about the Islamic religion and Judaism. I was able to eat their foods, practice their religious holidays, and be around them more.
I would say my journey to France and Morocco was life changing, to say the least. I have definitely walked out with a different perspective on life since I have been back. I now feel more urges to explore, and try new things. For example, I am from New York City and previously, in my 19 years of living there I had not experienced all it has to offer. Since being back, I have became a tourist of my own state. I also discovered that traveling is now a hobby of mine, because after my trip abroad I booked a flight to Jamaica. I do not feel like I am the same person I was before going on this study abroad trip, and I can’t wait to see my change in perspective manifest itself in the Fall.