study abroad

One Long Journey to Ifrane, Morocco

Kansas to Morocco

When you live in rural Kansas, just going to the nearest city is a journey. As a result, traveling to a country across the Atlantic Ocean is like going to the moon. And because it takes forever to get anywhere, making it to Morocco was one heck of a journey. 2 1/2 days to be exact.

On Sunday, my family and I had to wake up at 3 am in order to get to Wichita early enough to go through security at the airport. Now, my hometown does have an airport but they wanted to charge me $10,000 for a round trip flight. And that was the student discount.

Umm….how about no?

So thanks to STA Travel, I discovered that it was more than $9,000 cheaper to travel four hours to the nearest city and take my flight from there.

It didn’t really  hit me that I was willingly leaving the continent until I passed the airport’s security and saw my family waving bye as I headed toward the waiting lounge.

I remember thinking, “What have I done?! What if it absolutely sucks and I end up hating myself afterwards?”

But too late for second guessing. Within an hour United Airlines arrived to whisk me away to Chicago so I could wait a beautiful 7 long hours before my flight to Canada.

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I did see this “Bean” though…

Some adventurous people, when confronted with a 7 hour layover, would have probably used the layover to have fun and explore Chicago.

 

Eat hotdogs. See the Bean. Visit Navy Pier. All that fun jazz.

However, being the cheap person that I am, I used my 7 hours drifting from waiting lounge to waiting lounge. I ate the cheapest meal at McDonald’s for lunch and rode O’Hare’s Light Tunnel at least 20 times.

Lemme tell you, the Light Tunnel stops being fun after the 5th or 6th ride.

It wasn’t until a few minutes past midnight that Air Canada decided to arrive and liberate me from the Kingdom of Boredom. I think I nearly cried.

I was beyond excited to board Air Canada.

Due to the way my itinerary was set-up, I was required to spend a night in Montreal before boarding my plane later in the evening. Which meant my first visit to a hostel and a whole day in Canada!!

When the airplane landed and I saw the Bienvenue au Canada sign, I was ready to find my hostel so I could sleep and explore for the rest of the day.

After going through security and exchanging my money, I was on the 747 shuttle toward my hostel.

I walked in chipper and excited for my first night at a hostel in a foreign country.

Then I left the next morning never wanting to do it again.

It wasn’t a horrible experience. The hostel manager was extremely accommodating,the room was clean,  all five of my roommates were asleep when I got there, and there were cereal boxes and bagged milk for breakfast.

However,  I discovered that I value good breakfast, a squishy bed, a long hot shower, and privacy too much. I now know that for when I travel in Morocco. I also now know that I would probably hate couch surfing with strangers.

So after an awkward night’s sleep, a decent shower, and a change of clothes; I set off to explore Montreal. And it was fantastic.

I visited Mary Queen of the World Cathedral , Old Town Montreal, and Latin Quarter. Plus, I had some yummy chocolate crepes with ice cream for lunch.

It was disappointing when the clock struck 2pm. That meant heading back to the waiting area for the 747 shuttle that would take me to the airport. I wanted to make it back on time in order to retrieve my luggage from the airport’s storage room and go through security.

Yes, the airport storage room. Because I am lazy and weak. I was not going to carry that giant suitcase around Montreal.

Everything went quickly from there. After finishing some last minute things and going through security, I was finally in the waiting lounge. I bought some souvenirs, ate some nuts (why is Montreal’s airport so expensive?), and boarded my plan to Casablanca, Morocco.

I was told horror stories about the airplane I would be using to reach Morocco. I was told that it would be a crappy airplane that could barely fly and offered the worst costumer service.

To my pleasant surprise all the flight attendants were very nice. There were three empty seats besides me and they allowed allowed me to turn them into a giant bed free of charge. I was even able to use the extra pillows and blankets to make it even more comfy. And they woke me up whenever it was time to eat or put on a seatbeat due to turbulence.

I felt like a giant baby. But on the bright side, the airplane ride was so pleasant that I never suffered jetlag afterwards.

But the journey wasn’t over yet. Because Casablanca is a 5 hour train ride away from Fes, the city where my school would pick me up.

So after more security, more currency exchanges, and a two hour baggage delay; it was time to catch that train. Thankfully, I was able to meet up with some fellow American students which made the journey to Fes much more pleasant.

After missing two trains, nearly getting trampled, getting tsk at by one of the workers for sitting in 2nd class instead of first class (we got lost), and much confusion with how the currency worked; we finally made it to Fes.

Our school was kind enough to pick us up so we got in the school shuttle and drove to Fes’ airport to pick up more students. Finally around 10pm we made it to Al Akhawayn University and had dinner around 11pm.

It was  past midnight on Wednesday when I was finally able to shower and sleep in a proper bed.

One long journey indeed. But one that I believe will be worth it.

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