Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Three Essentials Things to Study Abroad Weekend Traveling

Hola Todos!

My program is coming to end soon and I really just wanted to share with you a few things I've learned through experience since my last post. So, from about the end of February I have been traveling somewhere almost every weekend with Either my program (ISA) or my friend Shaylynn. Info info we have so far been to Girona, Valencia, South of France, Madrid, Amsterdam, Paris, and just recently Portugal. Through all this traveling I've learned a few things That I find essential in trying to enjoy the Study Abroad travel experience while staying focused on the main purpose Also to study abroad - which is your culture and education perspective.

The first of the essential things is: Preparation

If you plan to travel During the weekend it's best to plan as soon as possible and as much as possible. Many of my teachers are very lenient when it comes to traveling but They can only bend the rules as much as the program will allow. Almost all of my classes have a very strict attendance policy (not very common in the States) in Which you can only miss 4-8 classes in order to be able to take the final exam (depending on how many hours of class you have) . I usually write down all the important dates in my classes - exams, quizzes, presentations ect - so there are no confusions That when booking trips.We do not have classes on Friday, which is good for traveling on the weekend, but a lot of people like to try to leave Thursday after class and come back Monday morning before class just to get the Most out of the weekend. In That case I would suggest saving your allotted absences for times where cutting it close That Could go wrong, ie you miss the train on you way back from the airport, your flight gets delayed, or worse case scenario you miss you flight all together. In another sense, sometimes flights are cheaper for one day That Dramatically Increase Whereas drastically They next day. For example, Shaylynn and I traveled to Amsterdam on Thursday on Which to my class ends at 24:30 and she has a class ends at 7:45 pm That. The flight for Amsterdam was much cheaper than in the afternoon and one in the evening was much cheaper than in the evening That early morning next Friday. Though it would Have Been much cheaper to travel in the afternoon on Thursday (In Which We both miss class), Shaylynn is allotted eight absences in her class while I am only allotted four. It's little tweaks like that can Interferes with traveling, that's why it's essential to Efficiently So THAT if need be to missed class does not Affect you plan progress in class.

Preparation and planning are essential not only for your attendance in class but Also for your finances. Budgeting is a key factor when it comes to planning a trip or even weekends spent Study Abroad in your city. I live in a home stay and my mother cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for me and my roommates every day. However, sometimes I eat in between meals, and Usually I'm out of the house all day on weekends. Also many of our program excursions do not include meals. Eventually all this adds up, and trying to pay for food, living, entertainment and travel to where ever you May Becomes a bit more difficult towards the end of the program.

The second of the essential thing goes Along with the first one and it is: Studying

Strategically planning your trips clears up any confusion or inconveniences you would run into while traveling, but you Also have to Consider your traveling time. My Study Abroad semester is much Shorter than a semester at UMKC. Our classes end on April 10th, info info we have spring break, then we come back for finals for two days, April 22nd and 23rd. Usually classes are much Easier for the first two or three weeks. A lot of people take advantage of These weekends to travel  where keeping up with your school work is not so difficult Often Because You have little to none. However, a problem is Most people When studying abroad find alone (like me), the first couple of weeks are spent trying to find friends and travel buddies. Often by the time you find someone to travel somewhere and your school work has gotten a little bit harder and requires more time studying .  I suggest at the beginning That the program of study you set-up times THROUGHOUT the week as soon as you Become accustomed to your class schedule. Now, here in Barcelona there are a lot of little things people like to explore and see after class Such as parks, museums, as well as go to the beach. This is where I would suggest you plan your weeks Strategically (correlating With the first essential thing I Mentioned) for both "study time" and "exploring time". For example, Monday and Wednesday I have a class at 24:40 That Ends. and another from 3:40 pm-5: 8:00 pm. Between this time I go to the ISA office, eat lunch, and study; After class on Monday I usually plan my weekend (book trips, plan random adventures, ect.). Wednesday after class I study until dinner (Which is normally around 9pm). Tuesdays and Thursdays my classes end at 24:40, so I have the  Entire  day to explore and study. Tuesday afternoon I usually study for Most of the day then explore until dinner. Thursdays I finish planning my weekend (packing if I am planning on traveling) and study for the weekend so I do not That Have to cram for anything Sunday night or Monday before the class. This essential thing is very nit-picky and Usually not much fun, but the main purpose for studying abroad is the educational part and it's very much worth it to  be able to travel  THROUGHOUT the program with out any worries on schoolwork.

Finally the last essential thing is: Keeping up with your Health

As simple as that sounds, Constantly traveling does take a lot out of you. Like I said before Most people try to take advance of the cheaper flights after class at night or early in the morning before class coming back, But Usually This results in little sleep. I do not know about you, but I find it really hard to get a good night's rest on a plain or a train. Just recently on my Portugal trip we took advantage of an early morning flight on Monday in order to make it to my 11:00 a.m. class. The flight left at 6:50 a.m. Which meant we needed to wake up at 3am, leave by 4am, and be at the airport to check in and go though security by 5am. We arrived in Barcelona at 9am and then I had to go to class! Inexpensive flights are a bonus, but sometimes they come with a down side: such as This. Traveling all day, almost every weekend can be a drainer on your body Especially with a lack of sleep to add to it.  Twice During my time abroad I've caught a cold Because of so much traveling, the change in weather, lack of sleep , and lack of water. My previous essential things to traveling, preparing / planning and studying are Most ideas importance of ideas, but They take up a good amount of time THROUGHOUT the week days. This means trying to catch up That on  the  sleep That You May have missed over the weekend Becomes a lot more difficult and can cause a great deal of stress!

With only about three weeks left in my program I thought it would be good to share what I felt was essential to enjoying your travel Study Abroad experiences while never losing focus to the true purpose. Not every one likes this much Have To Consider When so many destinations to wait, but it's definitely worth it so you will not ever have to look back With Any regrets!

Until then!
Gabby Smith

Monday, March 31, 2014

Experiencing Racism in Morocco

Hello my fellow Missourians!

I hope the sun has arrived early enough for you to enjoy the beginnings of spring.

       This particular subject is something that I have been struggling with upon my arrival to Morocco.
Racism is always a heated topic of discussion in the United States (US) because of the its long affiliation with slavery. Coming to Morocco, I never expected to be openly discriminated against. I sincerely thought, " I AM GOING HOME". When I say home, I mean Africa. As an Ethiopian Diaspora, I view all the countries in Africa apart of me, I carry a piece of my cultural pride with me where ever I go, especially back home in the US. My expectations of Morocco were much of the same expectations I held for Ethiopia. I was expecting Moroccans to accept me with open arms, open arms for their African sister, but I was wrongly mistaken.

   My first encounter with racism was shortly after my arrival in Morocco in August. Sitting in the Taxi, my friends were conversing with the driver about Morocco and my friend said something along the lines of, "I'm so excited to be in Africa". The Taxi driver immediately said, "There are two Africa's, black Africa and white Africa, Good Africa and Bad Africa". The first real conversation we had with a Moroccan man in Casablanca soon painted a reoccurring theme I had with Moroccan locals. This state of differentiating between the white and black Africa.

  After this encounter I just tried to brush off the conversation and head to my bed. I had a long exhausting twenty-six hour flight getting to Morocco, all I needed was a bed to just crash. Soon upon my arrival in Meknes I would receive stares, which isn't anything out of the ordinary. Honestly, I wasn't expecting to blend into a homogeneous environment, but I was not expecting to receive the reactions (from some individuals). DON'T get me wrong, I have experienced PLENTY of racism in the US, but in America it's behind closed doors and rude remarks with underlying tones of racism.

    The only difference between Americans and Moroccans are people here are more inclined to be open their frustrations with sub-Saharan black people and Americans attempts to hide it. I do want to set the record STRAIGHT by also saying I can understand why some Moroccan locals are frustrated about the migration of sub-Saharan into Morocco. I am not making excuses for Morocco, but what most Sub Saharan people try to do is escape poverty (who can blame them??).

Sometimes people are willing to experience extremes for the taste of freedom.

    Immigrants first diverge a plan to make it to Europe through Morocco. Essentially just trying to use Morocco as a transit, not a permanent place to live. First, they travel up through Mauritania, then through the Western Sahara, then up through Morocco. When arriving to Morocco, they head North to the Strait of Gibraltar. The body of water is a 13 km gap between Spain and Morocco. Both Moroccans and Sub-Saharan Africans either try to bribe their way onto the ferry which will carry them onto Spain, others try to sneak their way into the Cebta (the disputed Spainish territory Morocco), and other try and swim across. Those who try to swim across are mostly faced with a deadly fate of being shot, drowning, and very rarely there are some who make it to shore. All illegal citizens whether in Morocco or Spain either, A. burn their personal papers or B. don't bring them, so the government has to deal with them. The government cannot deport them because they do not know the country of origin without papers.

  The European Union has now made a HUGE push with additional funding for Morocco to secure its border patrol because of the how many illegal immigrants are making it into European countries. A lot of this racial tension comes from the new immigration laws and previous colonization. Morocco was a "protectorate of France", another fancy meaning for colony. When the French came, they also divided the people of Morocco, between the Amizghr and the Arabs. Of course, like Napoleon said, Divide and Conquer. There was already racial tension between the two main ethnic groups in Morocco, but this additional pressure on Morocco is causing more racial tensions to soar even more with the immigration issues.

This is what is causing racial tensions.

  There are many places in Casablanca which refuse to rent to Sub-Saharan Africans. This back lash against blacks has caused many institutionalized systems of Moroccan Jim Crow laws. It wasn't until this year--2014 that King Mohammed the VI offered Sub-Saharan African children (who were born in Morocco) to a Moroccan father citizenship. Do not get me wrong, this is a GREAT step in the right direction, but the root issues for tension should be solved by the governments from which these people are trying to escape from. Most illegal citizens, both Moroccans and Sub-Saharan Africans, experience racism and poverty in Spain.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side.


     People in both Morocco and Spain are frustrated. Morocco has a 30% unemployment rate, there are not jobs for those who are educated or those who are not. Which means there is a big competition of jobs for "blue collar" jobs. We see this frustration in the US with the (illegal) migration of Hispanic people. Sub-Saharan people and Moroccans are working for much lower wages in both Spain and Morocco to just compete with the job market. This is just like how the illegal Hispanic are treated in the US. 

  What is the solution? I sit here telling to you about how I've been called a nigger multiple times on the streets of Morocco and I have been physically assaulted, because I am a woman of color. At first all I could do was sulk in my bitterness, but now I know there are more positive ways to work towards a future of working together. NOW stop what your thinking AMERICANS, we AMERICANS (including myself) have a tendency to generalize people. I have experienced a lot of racism here, just as much as I have experience in America, BUT there have also been AMAZING people I have met here that DON'T care about the color of my skin. The key to moving forward is addressing this situation. I have been apart of amazing group of young Moroccans trying to make a change in Morocco. The first step as an outsider is to support locals to bring change to their communities. Change comes from within.

 Many Moroccans are extremely hospitable people (besides Ethiopians [lol]) and have the kindest hearts.

    My experience in Morocco has NOT and will NOT be tainted by ignorant people. Of course it does not make you feel good when people judge you based on something you cannot control (my skin color). There is nothing more that I love about myself than the color of my skin. It is a badge of pride that I wear. I'm not going to lie if I told you I haven't wondered how much easier it would be to be white man. The treatment of my friends when we go places, for the most part, is exceptional. Experiencing some of this hatred has made me question a lot of things, but at the end of the day, there is nothing more than I am proud of than to be a beautiful brown woman and if that brings negative or positive understandings, I know I am working for a brighter future where we all work together.

I honestly LOVE Morocco and there is nothing in the world that could ever change the things I have confronted and dealt with here. It sucks that a small minority of stupid people sometimes are the face of the majority, but unlike those people I refuse to generalize Moroccans or Arabs.

I have to remember not that ONE person is not a REPRESENTATION of the whole society.

Love is colorblind.

 أحبك (I love you),

Ida Ethiopia Ayalew

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The unspoken truth

Hello أمريكا (America),

     I have missed you all very much. It's been about seven months since I have seen all the McDonald and Quicktrip signs. As May approaches, I am filled with sadness, my time in Morocco is drawing to a close. This second semester has been a semester of plenty of reflection and acceptance. It has definitely been an emotional roller coaster, but I am learning to let unimportant things roll of my back.

    Last semester, I did not fully appreciate Morocco. I constantly ask myself why did it take me so long to come to this point of revelation? I was extremely homesick and didn't even know..

    When packing for Morocco, back in August (ages ago), I did not expect myself to fall into a perpetual state of homesickness. I was thinking to myself, Morocco; colorful long skirts and shirts. Not once did it ever really hit me, I was going to be gone for one year, 365 days. I never asked myself, what I should take with me to a distant place, drastically different from home. I urge those who are planning, considering, or beginning to study abroad to make sure you bring a piece of home with you wherever you go. 

   I have struggled with mild depression before coming to Morocco, visiting my counselor once a week during the school year, I addressed the problem points of my life. When the opportunity of traveling to Morocco came up, it never crossed my mind that I could fall back into my perpetual state of depression. I was thinking it will be all things Sunny! What was there to worry about? Nothing. Well, I was mistakenly wrong. The first semester in Morocco where incredible, until I came back from Ethiopia in January. I just tried to cope with life the same way I do when I am at home--study, study, study, but the longing to be home in Ethiopia with my mom and sister got the best of me. I would sometimes come straight home from school and sleep for hours beginning of this semester. I still traveled on some weekends, enjoyed some moments, but I was not living the moment. My mind was constantly bogged with dreading coming back to Morocco which I *thought* would draw me into this perpetual cycle of sadness, but it was my own reluctance to address my issues which trapped me in my room.

    I just needed my family, especially when I came back from Ethiopia. I hadn't seen my sister or mother in five years so coming back to Morocco felt so much harder than it actually was. Looking back I wish I just would have left my apartment, I wasted so much valuable moments and time. All I needed to do was get out and see something, breathe, meditate, but I choose instead to ostracize myself. My friends tried to encouraged me to go, but I made the ultimate decision.

What the solution? HONESTY! Call your loved ones.

  I encourage all those who can, call your family! There is nothing better in this world than hearing the voices of the people you love. Their voices bring so much comfort and encouragement, you feel you can conqueror the world. I am EVER so blessed to have a family and school who supports me. Without the help of my aunts, uncles, sisters, cousins, brothers, dad, mom, friends, and UMKC, I do not think I would have been able to get to the point of realization I have recently came to this semester. Life is not about your expectations, it is all about making your expectations met life. This preconceived notions about life abroad people have are wrong. Same you + different country = same you, BUT you have to choose to take advantage of the opportunities you have and it saddens me that it took me this long to realize this! It is such a simple answer to a simple question.

  I have this theory that life is actually simpler than people make it, I am accountable for making my life more complicated than it needs to be.

      As I was sitting at Pizza Hut eating the closet "American" thing I could find. My thoughts had consumed me. That was the moment I knew, I was homesick. Soon after this realization I knew I had to do something about it to enjoy the rest of my semester. January was definitely some long days of sadness, trying to break this funky mood I was constantly in, I starting running everyday. Exercise and mediation is helping me in my progress to move towards a positive direction.

      Homesickness is not taken seriously, it's my seventh month in Morocco and I am just getting over the milestones of homesick. People need to understand studying abroad isn't all rainbows and sunshine, but it is about creating your own sunshine and pushing through those cloudy days. It has taken me a long time to let the small things roll off my back. It's for the better, control what you can control and don't worry about the rest.


I just want to take this time to let everyone know, it is OKAY to be homesick, it's natural. We just have to work through it all the good and bad.

Find something which gives you peace and be self-aware. Whether it's sports, writing, singing, dancing in the rain, hiking, YOU have the ability to change how you feel.

Sending positive vibes from Morocco.



ليلة سعيدة (Good Night),

عايدة




                                                        Enjoying some sunshine in Rabat!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

안녕하세요(Annyeonghaseyo)- Hello from South Korea~

Hi to everyone who studied abroad, will study abroad, or is interested in anything related to studying abroad! Currently, I am here in Seoul, South Korea studying at Dongguk University as a Business-Management student for two weeks now. Everything is happening so fast. I am enjoying all the new faces and environment. I met so many people since I first arrived in Korea. Many Korean people here are very friendly if you just talk to them. So being in a new, completely different country where you cannot speak the language sounds scary, but is not so bad once you overcome your fears of spontaneously meeting and talking to new people. I have spoken to many Korean students who rarely knows English, but are still nice to try to communicate with me.

My first experiences since I been in Korea:
-Riding the bus
-Riding the subway
-Taking a Taxi
-Trying Korean BBQ
-Trying street food
-Walking everywhere!
It was great that I got to experience all of that here in the city of Seoul. From time to time, I would miss my car, but I got used to walking everywhere.

A few things I learned about the country and the people:
-Seoul has A LOT of HILLS and STAIRS, especially at Dongguk University
-When it gets crowded anywhere, and you start to bump into people, it's natural to say "excuse me" or "sorry" BUT a lot of people do not mind or say anything to you. They are used to it.
-Be careful when crossing the street in busy traffic, the cars here will continue to go even if they have a red light. So, the crosswalk lights are your best friend. Do not jaywalk unless there are no incoming cars. Even in some narrow streets, cars will still try to squeeze in and you will be forced to get out of the way. They like to drive really close, but won't necessarily hit you, hopefully.
-When meeting someone, they will tell you a time such as 2pm, in Korean time, that means it can be 2 minutes BEFORE 2pm or 2 minutes AFTER 2pm. Being on time is very flexible here.
-A lot of Korean students are very dependent. Therefore, most of them are still living with their parents, which is not a bad thing! :) 

I am very lucky with the classes that I chose to take here at Dongguk University. All my professors spoke descent English with all the materials written in English. My first day of classes, I was very nervous of how the professors, students, and the way the class will be like. I imagined all my professors would end up teaching the classes in Korean. However, after my week of attending all my classes, I felt very relaxed due to all the friendly students and helpful professors who were able to speak in English. I cannot wait for when the semester picks up and I will be able to study again. I have been on break from classes since the beginning of December of 2013 (End of the Fall semester at UMKC).

I hope to write again!

Ting Ngov

Here is a link to see all my pictures from my fun and exciting adventures in Korea:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ting-ting13/sets/72157642284693284

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Second Semester

I'm now well into my second semester in Lyon, France. This semester is harder scholastically because I am in regular French university classes, but my intensive language classes last semester are definitely proving to be helpful. It's still amazing to me that I know what's going on at all. Being proficient in a different language is so interesting. Words that seem like gibberish are coming into my brain and being processed quite normally. It's so much fun. :) 

My parents came to visit me over Christmas break and we traveled to Annecy, Rennes, Mont St Michel, and Paris. It's definitely a lot easier to travel on my parents budget. ;) In Februrary, I had the opportunity to visit Oxford, England another time. I haven't done loads of traveling this semester so far but I'm looking forward to doing some traveling in April, May, and June. I'll be traveling to the south of France (Avignon and Arles), as well as the west coast (La Rochelle), and then it'll be up to Amsterdam, down through Germany to visit some dear friends, back into France, then up into England and Scotland for some hiking before coming back to the states. 

It's hard to believe how fast this year is going by. I only have four months left abroad, only three of which will be spent in France. Back in August and September, I was sure that the eleven months would pass slowly but now I have no idea why I ever thought that. I am a little apprehensive about returning to the states. I'm a missionary kid, so moving around a lot has always been a part of my life, but I was never alone before. There are absolutely many features of Lyon that I will miss when I'm back in Kansas City. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Actividades de Seis Semanas

Hola Todos!

I´m so excited to be able share my experience with you all on this blog. Unfortunately, I´ve had a bit of an issue with internet connection for a while, so I haven´t been able to post as often I would like. I´ve missed good amount of time, but I´ll jump right in and share as much as I can!

I´ve been in Barcelona for six weeks now and I love it! We've seen so much, both with ISA and on our own.

On the very first day of the program, I met my family.  I was a bit overwhelmed with the fact that my host family doesn't speak any English, but they were extremely welcoming.  My host mother's name is Pepita and the father´s name is Juan. They are an older retired couple that live in a nice apartment in Grácia. I met Juan first and he showed me back to the apartment where I then met Pepita who helped me unpack and cooked me lunch. Later that night, I met my roommate, Haleigh, from Colorado. She´s very nice and, luckily, very good in Spanish. I never reaized how much I needed to improve my Spanish until I got here!

For the next couple of days we visited a lot on placed on an ISA tour bus. One of the first places we visited on an ISA tour bus was a mountain where you can see the entire city of Catalonia! We then rode the bus to the beach and took some beautiful pictures of the sunset.
Image  Image
ImageThat same week we visited the Gothic Area, The Cathedral, and The Segrada Familia.
The Segrada Famila is a beautiful church with so much history and such detailed architecture that  it´s not expected to be finished until 2026. Gaudí´s plan is breathtaking from the moment you walk in and all throughout the church!

When classes started, our time to explore the city became much more limited. We don´t have classes on Friday so this gives us a good weekend to go traveling. Of course we needed to become accustomed to the city first, but after two weekends in Barcelona, I chose to go to Morocco, Africa to vist my friend Ida. We visited Fez and the Medina, Casablanca, and spent the last nights in Meknes where she is also studying abroad with ISA!

During the weekends after that we traveled to couple cities in Spain with ISA. First we visited Gerona, a city about two hours north of Barcelona. This was such a beautiful mid-eval town. It was very quaint with a lovely scenery, nice stores, and friendly people. We also just visited Valencia, a city about four hours south of Barcelona. We chose to go at the right time because even though we´re in Barcelona´s winter season, it was 80 degrees there. Perfect weather for the beach. Along with the beach, we went the the Valencia Aquarium; the biggest aquarium in Europe!  

This is only a gist of the many things that have occurred over the course of these six weeks, but I have plenty more to go and I can´t wait to keep you all updated.

Hasta Luego!

Gabriell Smith






Sunday, February 9, 2014

Coming to terms with saying Good-bye

Good Morning Kansas City!
!Kansas City (sahba Alkahyr) صباح الخير



        It's been quite some time since the last time we have touched base! It's has currently been two weeks back in Morocco, after spending a five week break in Ethiopia. Some may not know where Ethiopia is located, it is in the far East, otherwise known as the Horn of Africa.

      Shortly after my last day of class, fall semester, I boarded a bus and headed to Casablanca Airport. On the way to the airport I had four hours to sort my thoughts and emotions of; frustrations, fear, anxiety, and excitement. This was the last time I would be seeing some many people for the rest of my life. Ending one chapter and starting another. The moment was bittersweet, a reminder of how innocent life has become. A reminder of how every moment in our lives our precious, how I mostly take it for granted. When we arrived to the airport, it was like the song "Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed". One by one we all started leaving, heading home understanding our relationships and lives will never be the same.
    It was more difficult than I could imagine, saying good-bye to these people I had only known for one semester, three months. I usually believe that, "fast friends are fake friends", but because of the circumstances we were all put into, we connected and bonded so quickly. Relating to all the sicknesses and roller coasters of emotions of growing up, graduating, getting engaged, etc. We all were forced into an uncomfortable position, and ISA says it best, "Your adventure begins at the end of your comfort zone". Never in my life would I have expected to make lifelong friends on this journey, but I can honestly say I have found more acceptance and understanding in my friends abroad, then I expected.
   After saying my personal good-byes and boarding the flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I began to understand I am not at the end of my journey. I still have another six months before I reach the United States. The flight to Ethiopia was long, I had more time to accomplish some personal reflection on how I had changed as a person fall semester and how I would like to continue the consistency. I know, I know it sounds so cliche, the girl who studies abroad "finds herself", but studying abroad isn't about "finding yourself", it's about coming to terms with the person you are! Not trying to create an image or persona of someone you  want to be. You are faced with a lot of personal time and reflection. In that time you have to either A. accept yourself for who you are, and B. LOVE yourself enough to change.
       Our American youth often times confuses option B. We, my generation, needs to understand change is about love, not hate. You have to love yourself to open up and be honest with yourself. To move on to start CREATING the person you are to become, for the better. Ethiopia was a time for me to reflect on what I wanted to change in my life and change comes slow. I wasn't trying to jump into something I knew I couldn't finish. It was the first time seeing my mother and younger sister and five years. My largest and biggest step was to be open-minded, I often failed when I was blinded by frustration, but I kept trying to be consistent. My relationship with my mother isn't great so the five weeks I spent in Ethiopia was very difficult. I had to make a decision to say good-bye to the person I did not like to be and continue to work on that everyday. Talking to my aunts (who surprised me by coming to Ethiopia!!) they gave me understanding that I could never really run away things in life and it is better to face them full force. I had to say good-bye to the things I didn't want to be apart of my life anymore. After saying my good-byes to my sister and mother, which was extremely hard, I come back to Morocco.
    Feeling out of place with the new kids in ISA, I couldn't let go of the friendships I made last semester. I felt like I couldn't like go of the idea of my friendships, but I came to terms with understanding I didn't have to say good-bye forever with the memories of last semester, I just have to make some room for the ones to come this semester. "Seeing see you later" to the fear of misunderstanding, and hello to the opportunities for new friendships to grow.
     There is often times a misconception with Studying Abroad, people think they can show up to an unknown country, with people they don't know to create a new image of themselves. Studying abroad is not about "finding yourself" it is about coming to terms with the person you are and learning to be open-minded enough to accept others for there discrepancies. To understand something of yourself and the surrounding environment.

As many of you start to contemplate studying abroad, just realize that this is a personal journey you have to take for yourself. A semester, summer, or year of coming in touch with who you are, not who you want to imitate.


Keep in touch!
with peace ,مع السلام (maa' salama)

Ida Ethiopia Ayalew