Have you ever been to Disney World? When my family went when I was about six years old It’s a Small World was my little sister’s favorite ride, and I understand why. You get to hop on a little boat with your family and travel down a river that’s lined with figures and scenery from all different cultures around the world, all while a cheery song loops in the background: “Though the mountains divide / And the oceans are wide / It’s a small world after all.”
This past week, I felt like I went on a real-life version of this ride. At 4 a.m. on Friday morning everyone on our program boarded a bus, which took us to the port where we hopped on a boat that took us to Tangier, Morocco. I didn’t know exactly what to expect before going to Morocco, but I can now say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Beyond the classic tourist activities like riding camels down the beach and getting henna, we were able to interact with so many different types of people living in Morocco, making it a more dynamic experience than your average trip. The first day we met students from Tangier who showed us their city and answered questions about modern life in Morocco, and later we met with undocumented immigrants who had travelled (one by foot over two months) to Morocco to improve their lives, with hopes of eventually crossing over to Spain. In Rabat, we stayed with families and went to a hammam, and the second to last day we were given a meal by a rural family, and were able to talk about the contrast between their lives and the lives of the students we had met through a translator. None of this would have been possible on a typical ‘vacation’ to Morocco.
Before we knew it, we were back on the boat and back in Spain. The next day, I took a bus to Malaga, where I met two of my friends, Courtney and Caroline, who are studying abroad in Florence, Italy through Arcadia. We got a taste of Semana Santa in Spain, and I got a chance to show off my newly developed Spanish skills, and then we crashed in our hostel to get a good night’s sleep before getting on a plane to London.
Courtney and I became friends when we studied abroad in London through Arcadia’s FYSAE program, so going back and reliving those memories, and getting to act as tour guides for Caroline, was so much fun. While discovering new places is amazing, I think one of the best parts of traveling is going back to the places you love the most.
In ten days, I went from riding a camel in Morocco, to experiencing Semana Santa in Spain, and then to eating fish and chips in England. It really is a small world, after all.