March 8 2016

International Women’s Day…I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me. Reflections On My Time In Morocco by Jess Greene

donutmindykalingDo you ever see that mouth-watering donut or dessert as you’re window shopping during your never-ending diet? What about all of the food Instagram accounts that make you salivate during class? I’m also referring to that designer bag you’ve been eyeing since it entered the local department store… it’s eye candy… Well in the most surface way possible, that is how I felt that U.S. women were looked at when traveling in Morocco. And trust me, being on the other side of the glass or screen is NOT as enjoyable as you think.

Traveling to Morocco was something different, exciting and “cultured,” since you’re constantly trying to accomplish that goal while feeling “immersed” in order to live up to the full semester abroad experience. Well,  you may snapchat your way through each boring museum and church that look the exact same in every city, but Morocco will bring you to an abrupt halt.

study-abroad-bannerIt is not the type of country you can just decide to go to on a whim… especially as a young college girl. My friends and I decided to go through an organized trip, which if you are going on, I would say it’s the only way to travel unless it’s with your family. Although the food is more my forte, the 3 weeks following with a stomach bug wasn’t… no joke. And I don’t even eat meat or drink the water.

moroccoWe were instructed to pack certain clothes… long sleeves, no pants that are too tight (aka my whole lululemon wardrobe), nothing super low cut or see-through… I felt as if we were visiting a local jail. I didn’t realize how much their direction would benefit us. As we arrived in Marrakech, we moved completely out of all of our comfort zones. No longer were we being looked at by the American guys at Opium (a club in Barcelona), but being leered at by all the local men in Marrakech… which is a demeaning feeling.

nick-miller-paranoidAmerican women are looked at as objects. It doesn’t matter how covered you are, they can smell the “American” off of you. They purr at you.  They whistle.  They try to talk to you and grab you as you walk down the street. As scary as that was, I would never take back my experience. I feel that being in Morocco, seeing the clear delineation between men and women, to the point where women aren’t allowed in certain areas, feeling so de-humanized at a time where you’re already out of your comfort zone, truly made me appreciate my life, who I know, who I have become and the experiences I’ve ultimately been grateful to have. As much as I am strong, I do have some sort of an emotional side, and it’s safe to say I walked out of Morocco feeling grateful…. besides the stomach issues.

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