"Make voyages. Attempt them. There is nothing else." - Tennessee Williams
This Friday I head from the Midwest to Morocco.
You could say the planning for this trip began in my 10th grade French class. We were assigned a project to plan a trip to any French speaking country in the world. I chose Morocco, due to the fact it was far away and seemed like the most fascinating of the French speaking countries. A melting pot of European, African and Arabic cultures, a land where every shadow in the Medina hides a story. Of course money was no object on this imaginary trip, so five-star hotels and private jets, rather than riads and petit taxis, anchored my travels. I got an A on the project, but put aside my Maghreb dreams as more pressing domestic matters, such as college, took priority.
Life continued until a year ago, when I found an abroad program that offered courses in journalism partnered with a non-profit based in Minneapolis all in the setting of my 10th grade dream destination: Morocco. Though a homestay and 36 hours of travel time is a slight adjustment from my sophomore year travel plans, I decided to go for it. Fast forward past applications, health insurance, TB tests, frantically searching for a travel pack and a fantastic summer in Chicago, and you’ll find me here in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, typing away on a blog post three days from departing America. Beginning Friday night I’ll hop on a plane, train, then automobile, and arrive in Rabat Sunday afternoon ready to begin a semester studying journalism in Morocco.
Deep breath. Let me introduce myself.
My name is Karis Hustad, I am a senior at Loyola University Chicago and this semester I am headed to Rabat, Morocco to study journalism with SIT and Round Earth Media.
I am originally from Falcon Heights, and graduated Roseville Area High School in 2009. I went into Loyola as a journalism major, and have stuck with it despite pessimistic headlines about the media industry and gentle warnings from industry veterans. I also study sociology, both as a minor and as a resident of the most diverse neighborhood of the most segregated city in the country. I will graduate in May.
Going abroad senior year was a tough decision. I have had an incredible three years at Loyola, and I am a little sad I will miss some quintessential "last" college moments this fall with friends and fellow students.
But going abroad is something that has been on my college bucket list since before I even knew what college I would attend. These last three years various factors from financial to family to procrastination (hey- it happens to the best of us) have prevented me from heading overseas. I believe the setbacks, however, prepared me for this particular time and program. Career path, dream destination and hometown connection? I’ll take it.
That being said, with only three days until my departure, the nerves are creeping to the same level as my excitement. I have never been abroad and I know very little French, let alone Arabic, let alone Darija (the hybrid French/Spanish/Berber/Arabic dialect they speak in Morocco). I have only ever lived in the Midwest, either in a suburban home or college setting. I have never even been on a trip longer than two weeks (college not included of course).
But an impending adventure continues to thrill me more than any packing list can intimidate me. Plus, seeing as I have never been overseas, I have no comparison experience, no expectations and no idea what I am getting myself into. As Marilyn Monroe once said, “Ever notice how ‘What the hell’ is always the right answer?”
In my last few days in the States I am conquering to do lists, spending time with loved ones and eating all the deep fried food I can get my hands on (which has been made easy thanks to the State Fair). I head to Chicago today to finish packing and enjoy a last night in the city with college friends.
Seven years after that 10th grade French project, I head from the Midwest to Morocco.
To be continued.
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