Morocco, travel, tangier, architecture, life lessons, solo travel

1. Slow down & fall asleep in coffee shops | as a Chicago resident and very active individual, the slower pace in Morocco was something that took a bit of force to get used to. Traveling with my friend Youssef in Essaouira, I learned the beauty of walking slower, breathing deeper, photosynthesizing in the sun just a bit longer, and taking naps in coffee shops. The latter *might* not be as socially acceptable in the USA, but I know that I have a new-found appreciation for forgetting the demands of time (psh, it's a social construct anyway, right?)

2. Step out of your comfort zone | ride on the back of the motorcycle of that friend you just met, eat at a restaurant alone, learn how to dance at a party you accidentally crashed, make friends with strangers--how else are you to learn and grow if you stay confined in your safe space? In the words of Rumi, "why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?"

3. Walk with confidence | let's be honest--there is a lot of street harassment in Morocco, and this can negatively mess with your sense of self. In order to try my best to void the mental and emotional effects of harassment, I learned how to develop tunnel vision and walk with a high level of confidence. A trick I used to keep confident and walk with purpose is by playing songs of strong women in my head while walking.

4. Don't say no | it definitely makes for less regrets. (P.S. before you go around snorting cocaine and blaming it on me, this is less about drugs (continue to say no!) than to events/plans/trips/opportunities.) You know that little voice in your head that says "just go for it"? I tended to listen to her much more than I used to, and I've never learned and grown so much. Don't let fatigue or the comfort of a bed hold you back. Also, please see no. 2.

5. Don't lose yourself | at the same time of trying new things and taking on new experiences, don't be afraid to hold back from anything that makes you uncomfortable or would take a hit at your morals. Know your boundaries and don't feel pressured to cross them--being uncomfortable in a situation will completely drain any enjoyment it could have given you.

6. Enjoy your problems | on our roadtrip to Chefchaouen, we decided to rent a car. Bad idea. The car broke down, we were stuck in an town for more hours than there was population of people, and we had to pay quite a bit for repairs. But throughout the entire experience, we were (mostly) all laughing, dancing, bonding--the trip easily has become one of my favorite memories from Morocco, problems and all. Being upset never improves a situation, yet making light of difficult situations makes for such a more stress-free and enjoyable time!

7. Learn from everything and everyone | similar to a life lesson I learned from Iran, especially in a foreign country really take the opportunity to talk to anyone you can and learn from your everyday. I learned so much about Moroccan culture, politics, views, ideas, and people just from trying not to be so oblivious (being oblivious is a skill of mine, so you can guess how difficult this one was) and interacting with the people and environment of my surroundings.

8. Laugh at yourself | my Arabic is awful. And my Moroccan Arabic is even worse. I fell while waiting for a traffic light to change. I slipped on water. If I learned one thing in Morocco, it's that I have no balance (okay well I guess I always knew that) and that laughing at yourself is the best way to deal with an embarrassing situation. Life is too short to get flustered with the little things!


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