Study Abroad

Brains, Floods and an Unexpected Sense of Home: Here’s looking at you, Casablanca

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Two weekends ago, T. and I were invited to my protégé’s house in Casablanca. Armed with school-made sandwiches, bookstore cookies and bulky luggage, T., Darling and I embark on the quest for a Meknes-bound grand taxi. Mingling sweat and air with a farty passenger in the backseat, I spend the ride alternating my face between my hands and laundry detergent-scented clothes. Desperately I look toward Café Oxygen, an oasis situated somewhere between Meknes and Ifrane.

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Horses, Dust and Gunshots at a Fes Fantasia

DSCN1755 After the Fes medina and tanneries, my friend and I were quite tired – so tired, in fact, that we almost missed the mass of tents that cropped up to our left as we drove back to Ifrane. When he noticed them, my friend began shouting incomprehensibly gesticulating and jumping as much as his seatbelt would allow him. Turns out we’d stumbled on a Fantasia, a traditional horseback musket shooting competition difficult to track down for those outside local circles. My friend has even traveled to Essaouira, quite a ways from Rabat, to attend one.

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Poison Apples, Screaming Music and Gavlin Kleim Briefs: T. and I Brave Rabat

Precisely at 7:10 Saturday morning, T. and I met up at the hallowed Building 34 (my dorm) to begin our journey to the center of Rabat. After walking to Ifrane, we found a grand taxi to take us to Meknes, where we hoped to catch the 9 o’clock train to Rabat. The grand taxi contained three boys. During the 45-minute trip, in which the driver consistently stayed between 20 and 50 kilometers above the speed limit, the boys played numerous Arab and explicit American rap songs, and T. almost threw up because of motion sickness at least once.

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Let’s talk about Al Akhawayn’s gym. Plus, a word from Monsieur Mustafa.

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Every time I visit Al Akhawayn’s gym, I’m floored. The building boasts high ceilings, warm-colored wood and great mountain views. For those of you from Wisconsin, the place looks like a cross between the Lodge at Cedar Creek’s water park, Granite Peak’s ski chalet and Rib Mountain’s forest service building.

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First Day in Ifrane: yeah, we got lost.

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I woke up Wednesday to a beautiful, clear and slightly chilly Ifrane morning. After getting in the shower and being violently sprayed by the contents of my soap bottles, which had suffered under the Rabat-Ifrane altitude change, I got ready to face my first full mountain day.

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Halloween Juice and Angry Ketchup Packets: Voyage to the Center (sort of) of Ifrane

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My Tuesday started out rough. After barely sleeping the previous night, feeling sad to leave my Rabat friends and internship, and giving up my Embassy-issued phone, I spent an hour at the train station waiting for No. 117 to Fes.

Once it arrives, I cram my two suitcases and a backpack full of pantry food into a six-person compartment.

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Restaurant Dar Naji: Where Plums, Beef and French Fries Find Themselves

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Dar Naji is a colorful and ornate Moroccan restaurant. Located on the second floor of a building near Rabat’s medina, the restaurant gives diners a broad view of city life — and an earful of city traffic, depending on the time of day. Dar Naji is a favorite among Americans in Rabat. I’ve eaten here a few times, and have included details from one and pictures from multiple trips below.

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