Before I left for Morocco, when I told people where I would be going, everyone insisted that I visit Casablanca and Marrakech. Knowing that visitations to these cities were already included in our itinerary, I assured them that I would do so. When I mentioned that I’d be spending the majority of my time in Rabat and the High Atlas Mountains, I was met with stumped faces as most were not familiar with the capital nor the mountains in Morocco. I felt a little uneasy at these responses and was curious as to why we weren’t planning on spending more time in the popular areas.
After visiting all of these cities and villages, I’m very glad that the itinerary was the way that it was. Although Casablanca and Marrkech were beautiful cities, they just weren’t my cup of tea. I can’t recall many fond memories from either cities but can think of a few uncomfortable experiences in both. I think such negative experiences, most of them having to do with my interactions with the people in the Medina, have been due to the fact that they are such popular locations for tourists that the shopkeepers have learned to be more opinionated about foreigners. As a result, I was met with more racial slurs and rude remarks in these popular cities.
Nevertheless, the good, the bad, and everything in between were all part in parcel of this wonderful experience and trip of a lifetime. It was amazing to be so completely immersed in such a different culture and to have learned so much about a wide range of topics pertaining to health. Many times, I feel sad whenever something reminds me of Morocco and I start to miss my peers, the environment, the people I met there, and all the freely roaming animals (mostly the cats). At the same time, I remember how lucky I am to have been a part of such a unique program. Then that sad feeling is overridden with gratitude for the incredible experiences I’ve had, which can never be taken away from me, and a sense of determination to continue building upon my understanding of various factors that affect maternal and infant health internationally.