On the 23rd, I turned 19! I am the youngest study abroad student here, so I was really happy to turn 19 so I did not have to be the only 18-year-old anymore. After a day full of classes, a group of my friends went out to a restaurant downtown and head milkshakes, smoothies, and dinner! They all surprised me at the end when a cake with candles was brought out and they all sang "Happy Birthday"! I am so grateful to be here at AUI with so many awesome people.
I wanted to do something for the weekend after my birthday, but with so many different groups heading out and a virus heading around campus, Dakota, Kelsey, and I weren't sure where to go. On Friday, we decided to head out to Casablanca with a group to go run a half-marathon! We left that afternoon. I want to make it clear that us three have not trained for this and I have never ran more than a 5K in my life, but we still decided to go to Casablanca and run the marathon. We took a train from Meknes to Casa and arrived late at night. We finally got to the hostel at about 11pm and that was when we realized that Dakota forgot her passport. For some reason, someone decided to tell the concierge that it was stolen, and so the guy at the desk told her she needed to go to the police station and fill out a report in order to stay in the hostel. Another person in the group decided to call the US Embassy to see if they could talk to the concierge and let her stay without going to the police station, but they told her that she needed to go anyways to get another copy notarized. Dakota is really scared of guns and police so she was just dreading going to the police department. While I went off to grab pizzas for the group with two friends, she headed off to get a copy of her passport with some of the French people in our group. Unfortunately, once they got to the station, the police told Dakota that she could not bring a translator into the office, so she was stuck alone. She finally returned at about 1am, and was able to sleep in our room. The next day, we registered for the half-marathon. Then, we went to the Morocco Mall, which is the largest mall in Morocco and then went to the Hassan II Mosque, which is the largest mosque in North Africa. At the mall, we got Starbucks and delicious falafel and walked around. When we were at the Mosque, we watched the ocean for a little while and explored the grounds. We got back to the hostel and rested before heading out to dinner. After dinner was when the nerves started to kick in that we were actually running the half-marathon without any training... We weren't going to back out so we headed off to sleep and woke up early to run. The next morning, the first thing Dakota and I hear is Kelsey coming out of the bathroom saying, "Guys, I don't think I can run the marathon because I lost a contact." We immediately just start cracking up and roll out of bed. Once we arrived at the starting line, we were swarmed by people trying to get photos of us and with us. It was pretty funny because we felt like celebrities. We then found a couple from Oregon on their 8-month honeymoon. The girl was running the half-marathon, because she found out she was pregnant and she could not run the full marathon. They were so adorable and she finished way before us. The marathon started and we started running! I ran all the way up to kilometer 7 without stopping, which I was really surprised about. I was upset though, because I thought the markers were in miles so when I got to km 7, I thought I was more than halfway done...but I was not. I ended up finishing at exactly 3 hours, and one by one, each of my friends crossed the finish line! We were so happy to finish and we got t-shirts and medals, which may or may not have been our motivation for running in the first place. We left for the train station and then stunk up a first-class cabin on the way home. It was such an awesome weekend and I cannot believe I accomplished a half-marathon!
This past weekend Dakota, Kelsey, and I went to Fes with a Church group on campus to volunteer with refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa. Boys all around our age travelled from Cameroon, Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Congo, etc. to go the Spain-Morocco border and hopefully get to Europe. Unfortunately, at the border, they were beaten and forced to stay in Morocco. We talked to them as they received medical attention for their wounds and made lunch for them, and played soccer and hung out. It was crazy to think that they were our age, and their lives were so different than ours. It was really great to spend time with them. I was proposed to four times and was called "Hannah Montana" by most of the guys I talked to so I laughing the whole time. We returned home and the three of us watched a movie and then went to sleep.
Periodically, the thought of returning home crosses my mind. I think it started when I signed up for classes back in Ohio, and I realized I have to go back. I am really nervous about returning home, because being here is just so amazing and I have met such amazing people that will make leaving really difficult. I can't wait to see my family, but I feel like I am really coming into my own here, and I just wish I could stay here longer. Traveling is such a wonderful gift, but everywhere you go, a little piece of you stays once you have to leave.
|Before the marathon!|
|After the marathon!|
|The beach that the mosque is on.|
|Hassan II Mosque!|
|With my medal! I could not walk the day afterwards because I was so sore.|