I am happy to say that I am safely back in the United States after the experience of a lifetime in Morocco. The biggest piece of advice I have for anyone planning on traveling abroad is to find a friend before you leave! Luckily, I had the opportunity to meet a few other students from U of M, and if it hadn’t been for them my time abroad would have been significantly more difficult. From walking to work each morning, to diagnosing each other with a wide range of stomach issues, to exploring Morocco on the weekends, it is best (and safest) to have a friend by your side, especially in any country where street harassment is prevalent and a language barrier exists.
Furthermore, I think it is necessary to acknowledge ahead of time that the impact you make might be rather limited. I spent just over three weeks trying to teach English to children, but by the end of the trip the only thing they remembered was “head, shoulders, knees, toes.” To me that might not be considered a huge success, but to the kids they were so excited to learn how to sing an entire song in English. Successful impact is measured relative of cultural standards, so it is very important to view the impact you are making from the point of view of those receiving the aid.
Overall, I would recommend traveling to Morocco because it was an eye-opening experience to immerse myself in such a different culture! However, I would also recommend doing an adequate amount of research ahead of time so you know just what to expect once there.