Tag Archives: morocco

12 countries in 112 days: My semester at sea

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The MV explorer; my new home for the next 4 months!

 

Spring 2014 Semester at Sea blog!

Hey guys! Have not heard from anyone in a while, but of course this is because I have not posted in a while. I’ve been home, in Michigan, doing my usual university-work lineup. Nothing special, but as some of you may already knew, in one month I leave for a Semester at Sea!! My amazing experiences in South Korea and Morocco were simply not enough for this crazy girl. I am excited to blog about this amazing opportunity here on my little wordpress! Spread the word because honestly I want people to hear about this opportunity and be pushed to it as well in life!

Wait, what? Hold on a second Danni. What in the world is a Semester at Sea?
Well, put simply and quoting from the Semester at Sea homepage:
Semester at Sea is a multiple country study abroad program open to students of all majors emphasizing comparative academic examination, hands-on field experiences, and meaningful engagement in the global community. A wide variety of coursework from 20-25 disciplines is integrated with relevant field studies in up to a dozen countries, allowing for a comparative study abroad experience that is truly global. The University of Virginia is the program’s academic sponsor. Students from 250-300 colleges in the United States and the world participate on Semester at Sea each term. Credit earned is transferable to a student’s home institution.”

Let me get this straight: you’re going to be living on a ship?

You guessed it! I live on a ship in double occupancy cabins! There are classrooms, pool areas, salons, food courts, ball rooms, a library, book store, snack booth – you name it and it’s there, everything I need to thrive while at sea! Naturally in ports (and we are in ports an average of 5 days) I will be traveling around and staying in hotels and such. And host families! So far I have plans to stay with host families in multiple countries in order to get the full cultural experience!

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Picture of one of the cabins on board

And where exactly are you going?
(Briefly Mexico) Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Burma, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco(Yay! Back to Morocco!!) and London! Possibly more depending on my budget (Might hit a few countries when I debark in London, but that’s actually unlikely)

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How can you afford this!?
Well, I can’t. If it was not for scholarships and a work-study I earned for Semester at Sea I would not be going. I received a merit scholarship, need based scholarship and was hired for a competitive work-study. I am awaiting on one more scholarship that is worth 10,000 through an honors society, but it is unlikely I will receive it. (Only one was available. And a girl mentioned to me since she is involved professionally with the program she will pull some strings, so I just applied for a good shot!) I am also taking out loans and emptying out my savings. Unless I get that last scholarship, I will be eating ramen noodles for a year after I return. Worth it.

Read more on my Semester at Sea on my wordpress at the tag https://elusiveambitions.wordpress.com/category/semester-at-sea-2/

If you guys have any more questions feel free to ask! I will be posting more about it as time gets closer! I also have a tumblr dedicated to Semester at Sea so feel free to follow me at
http://seathroughneweyes.tumblr.com

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My element

“This…this is my element” I thought as I lead my group of friends on pure instinct. We had arrived shortly before to the amazing Cascades d’Ouzoud in Morocco, located within a small village about as far out in the mountains and you can get. One of my friends, who organized the trip, found our hotel which is located on the top of the village, so we take many flights of stairs outside to get to the bottom of the waterfall area. as you walk down stairs there are abundant amounts of outdoor traditional Moroccan and Berber cafes and shops. It’s amazing to see, and there is always live traditional music everywhere you go. Once you hit the bottom it’s a tourist hot spot. Picture taking areas, donkey rides, boat rides around the water falls and henna tattoo stands,bustling with energy and people.
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I instantly wanted to get away from the commotion. I just sensed, somewhere among the waterfalls and mountains there would be a secluded place for me to experience this beauty. I convinced my very reluctant group of friends to allow me to lead this one. skeptical, they agreed as I set off hoping from rock to rock, climbing hills, crossing bridges and small streams, and climbing rocks, barefoot and free, as my friends did the same themselves. Until finally, over a hill, I found an area that screamed for me to enter within. My friends were still reluctant to follow me for some reason. “I’m sure there’s a reason no one is out here Danni…we should head back the other way. we’ve gone far enough” Eventually I did manage to get them to at least allow me to run ahead and scout before we all made our way through, just in case. Over a small rocky hill within the mountain side was a clearing that then turned into a well shaded area of tunnels made by trees. I followed this tunnel of trees to find an old, large mat sitting in the shade. “Now..if there is a place to swim near by…this spot would be ideal” i thought to myself as I continued through the tunnel of trees. I again popped out to a clearing, and to my left, filled with amaze and astonishment was another waterfall. To the right, was a perfect swimming area. I hopped from rock to rock to make it to this swimming area, and climbed down a hill to find a lovely “beach”,stream and frigid water along the mountain side and water falls. Noticing a beautiful water snake scurry into the water, and the extreme lack of human life within the area, I rushed back to tell my friends that this was it. They, again,didn’t believe me. Reluctant as always, finally followed me as I lead them through the tunnel of trees, over the hills and rocks and as the clearing welcomed the sights I described, they finally said “we doubted you. but you did it”. They all said. I guess for once I managed something right. Myself and a few others swam for some time in the water falls (others convinced the water was too dangerous..too bad because the experience was so worth it) It was a fantastic, beautiful experience. Reacting on my instinct, exploring, climbing and running..I felt myself in a element of complete bliss..a somewhat..nostalgic bliss. I even forgot to take photos of the area. Nothing else mattered except getting to where my heart called for me to go. Some of my friends did get some pictures, which I will upload asap, they are amazing for taking these photos! I also hope to go back again tomorrow..fingers crossed.

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Learning

Last night I could barely tell my host sister I was exhausted and wanted to sleep (they invited to go out at like 11..but i was slowly dying lol) I spent forever just tying to get that across, even though I knew all the vocab for such…yet this morning I am able to have a fairly speedy conversation with my host mother, in Arabic, about how I have gained scholarships to live my dreams from schools and government, and spoke a little about my family life (with little to no charades)…Why does the Arabic side of my brain insist on turning off and on? lol. In any case. thanks to Qalam wa Lawh Center for Arabic Studies I have indeed learned a lot these past two weeks 🙂 I would have never been able to talk about scholarships, government or anything related before coming here. 6 weeks lefts!
keep checking back because I’ll be posting more logs and photos! My next topic is going to be donation and “beggars” on the Moroccan streets. I have a bit on my mind about that subject.

Fortunes.

Before Morocco I had a fortune from a cookie that read “you will be traveling and coming into fortune” . I placed it inside a small bag, which I use as a wallet, for safe keeping. I thought it would be cool..you know..

As I strolled with a friend through a major souq in Rabat, i found myself amazed by how vast it was, and how it differed so greatly from the U.S and Korea. Busy with people, busting with energy, the smell of street food (that I have not yet grown to trust) really made the entire experience.It reminded me, in ways, of the outdoor markets in Korea, but still it differed so greatly. I purchased a lovely flowing shirt with a tiger on it. Maybe cost roughly 10 bucks, and I’m completely in love with it.

Upon hailing a taxi, I soon realize with my friend and I that my wallet was missing. Beginning to panic, my friend gave me a hug and proceeded to give me a handful of money. He really was a big help with reducing my anxiety of loosing my wallet (which was a small bag) in Morocco. I was silly and by mistake this morning threw that that smaller bag in my back pack in a rush. Inside of it consisted of all my money and credit cards as well as identification. It was gone forever, and I headed back to my host families house to make an attempt at explaining, in arabic, that I think my money bag was stolen. Upon return to school the next morning, I am told there was a call that a man found my bag. Apparently it must have fallen out of my purse. He tracked me down because I had a piece of paper in the bag with the phone number to the school on it. When he arrived at the school, and gave me my bag back, everything was intact. In fact, he would not accecpt any kind of reward..he just said In Arabic to me over and over “Money is not a problem for me, please just watch what you do”. That’s when I found the fortune in my bag..”you will be traveling and coming into fortune”…yes…I was quite fortunate. Words cannot describe how incredibly grateful I feel to that honest man, and the luck by my side..

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The Souq of Rabat, Morocco

CONFIRMED: Morocco bound!

Guess who just booked her ticket to Rabat, Morocco? Yeap! Me! 🙂 with that, it’s official that I will be studying at Qalam wa Lawh Arabic language institute in Rabat, Morocco! This institute has been very prompt with responding to all my emails. They have confirmed an airport pick-up for me, which will take me to the school – to which after I check in and pay my invoice my host family will be contacted to pick me up and thus would start my 8 week journey in Morocco! Best news is, it sounds like my university is going to grant me Fin. aid for this trip! be it with loans or some grants I already have, if everything works out alright and they approve it, I’ll be able to get direct travel insurance and aid from my university 🙂 This is just getting better and better!

Speaking of traveling abroad, I’m looking forward to apply for all these other scholarships I am trying for, to study abroad next spring and next summer as well. For Spring 2014, i’m trying to a full scholarship to do Semester at Sea (life long dream…..) and some funding for a semester in Akita, Japan. (I’d choose Semester at Sea if I got both because it goes to 13 different countries and Japan! ahhh~i want it!) I’m also going to be applying, yet again, for Arabic Critical Language Scholarship and a Scholarship to Oman as well.

If I don’t end up doing a semester abroad I will probably travel to Indonesia or India 🙂 (indonesia hopefully on a scholarship) but if I do a semester abroad, I’d miss Arabic and thus have to make it up over the summer.

Either way, traveltraveltravel.
My poor family is a nervous wreck, but after my success in Korea, they have grown to trust me that much more 🙂

سوف أذهب إلى المغرب، المغرب مرحبا!