Getting Over Fears and Making New Friends in Morocco
Updated: Sep 12, 2019
By Leila Morris
During my freshman year of high school, I was offered a wonderful opportunity. My Arabic teacher chose me, along with eight other students, to travel to Morocco! I had never thought that I would be given the chance to travel to a country in North Africa to learn about the culture while visiting different cities and meeting new people. Looking back, I can honestly say that I had a blast.
Getting to visit different cities and learning about the history and culture that makes Morocco so unique was thrilling. However, my favorite part of the trip had to be the students that we were able to meet in the Marrakech, Essaouira, and Casablanca. When I learned that my classmates and I were going to be meeting students from Marrakech on the itinerary. My only thought was, “Oh no.” I had been taking Arabic for around three years, but I was still very uncomfortable when speaking it. I feared that this would increase tenfold if I had to speak in Arabic to native speakers who were my age. I thought that this was going to be an awkward experience for all of us, especially since there was going to be a language barrier as well as a large cultural difference. Fortunately, this was not the case.
When it came time to meet the students, I was very awkward at first. I didn’t speak much and I felt overly nervous. When we were sent off with the students to find places to eat, I started to relax and I didn’t feel as nervous. I realized that despite our differences, the students in Morocco were just as friendly and funny as people in my city. We got to learn different things about each other and talked about what we had in common and what differences we had. Our senses of humor were quite similar and we became fast friends, while also exploring the markets of the city. The students that we met were amazing and I couldn’t believe how similar we were to each other. Coincidentally, the next day was the birthday of one of the students in my group. So, the Moroccan students we had met came up with the idea to get her a birthday cake and surprise her with a celebration on the top of our Riad.
I will forever be grateful that I was able to meet these students, as they helped me become more comfortable with talking to new people and not being afraid to learn and ask questions. Without them, I don’t think I would have learned as much or had as much fun as I did on that trip. The Moroccan students impacted me and made me feel more adventurous and lucky to be in an amazing country with amazing people, when I was afraid that I would spend the entire trip keeping to myself and only observing from afar. Even now, months after the trip, I still talk with the friends I made in Marrakech and I am so glad that ImprintEd Abroad helped me meet these amazing people.