Take A Risk


Peyton Sammons

A group of UNE students posing in an alleyway of Chefchaouen

Just this once, don’t listen to your parents. If your parents are trying to persuade you from studying abroad in Morocco, go to a meeting and give it a chance. We are told that Morocco is a dangerous place filled with potential threats. I personally was called crazy for coming here and other family members didn’t even know where Morocco was on a map. But one thing I can tell you is that taking a risk like this is worth it.  

Completely immersing yourself in a new environment, let alone a new culture, can be terrifying, but it is the best reward in life. The campus here in Morocco is breathtaking and opening the balcony door in your room is relieving after a long day of classes. They told me it would be scary here, but I have met the nicest people in my life while on this journey.  

The mental health crisis in America is a topic that is on the rise every day. In Morocco, you will notice that everyone here is simply happy. The man sitting on the side of the street, looking for food or asking for money, still has a smile adorning his face. The little kids running through the grassy park near campus fill the air with laughter as they play tag, soccer, or tug of war with each other. The woman walking by who’s carrying a crying baby has the softest tone and smile lines painted on her face as she soothes the infant. No matter what the circumstance is, people here refuse to be sad. They live one day at a time and quite honestly, I think we could all learn a lesson from a long time spent in Morocco.  

When I first walked the streets of Tangier alone, a wave of culture shock flowed from my brain all the way down to my feet. People do double-takes as they walk by you on the narrow sidewalks, but quickly shout ululations before you’re out of ear reach. 

“Welcome to Morocco!” a man will call before you round the corner. It will take you a second, but you will learn that this is your new home.  

I’m not using this entry to lie to you either. Obviously, there will be bumps in the road where homesickness will ravage your mind. That feeling may kill you for a short time, but you will realize that the friends you have here will quickly become your new family. I’m simply asking you to take a risk because I promise it will be worth it.  

You get a sense of freedom here. If you’re bored for a weekend you can talk to your friends and travel to another country. I mean who else can say they went to Italy for Thanksgiving break? I’ve traveled to Spain, Germany, Italy, and Ireland so far and I wish I could see the whole world before I leave. The downside is, coronavirus makes it a little more difficult than past groups, but you can always find a loophole. You gain a sense of independence, at least I did, and I wasn’t aware that that feeling was something I had been lacking in my life. Traveling will forever be a rewarding experience and I know people who came in the past will agree with me too! 


How many people can say they spent a semester abroad in Africa? Not many. You will be provided with some of the most amazing trips you will ever experience in your lifetime. From Chefchaouen, the infamous blue city, to Marrakesh, one of the craziest cities in Morocco, you will have countless amounts of stories to tell when you land back in America. Chefchaouen allows you to live with a host family and you will notice quite quickly how easy it is to feel at home. Your host brothers and sisters have this excitement that bubbles over as they walk you through the medina and welcome you into their home. They become a part of your life and it is something that you will never forget. Marrakesh on the other hand will be full of surprises. Horse carriages line the street, beautiful architecture falls behind those majestic animals, and if you’re there at peak sunset, the mosque creates a mesmerizing scenic view. But watch out! The center of the medina in Marrakesh is absurd. Monkey and snake charmers will appear out of nowhere, draping the foreign animals around your neck or perching them on your shoulders. Fear will rise in your belly for just one split second before a laugh will fall from your lips. At that moment you never want to go home.  

Studying abroad will always sound scary and it will probably fill your body with anxiety when you first board that plane, but all that fear is worth it. With UNE being such a spread-out campus, you don’t realize just how many people you truly don’t know. I came here knowing three other people and that’s it. The first couple of days feel like freshmen orientation all over again. You ask useless questions to try to get to know the other students, but being forced to travel with them, live with them, and practically take most of your classes with the same people, and then it seems like magic. A bond appears out of nowhere and your friendships become heightened. It becomes this huge family and an even greater support system when you’re feeling down or anxiety is nipping at your toes. At the end of the day,you notice that the bonds created in a foreign country will be the strongest ones you make in life. Sometimes when I feel depressed and second guess my decision of studying abroad, I realize that I would do it all over again to meet the people that I have here. You all live together, eat together, and mostly all go out together too. Problems are fixed easier and you probably won’t fight as much as some do with their real family.  

The moral of the story is, take a risk, live life on the edge and take a leap of faith in this program. It truly is mind-changing and you will quickly find out how strong of a person you are. All doubts you have of yourself will diminish and you will find a new version of yourself that you desperately needed. Everyone here wants to see you prosper. There is no reason to be fearful of what your parents may whisper because at the end of the day it is an accomplishment that not many people will be able to share with you. The stories will be a part of your life forever and I think that is the most beautiful part of this journey.