I won a trip to Morocco — and I’m leaving in 2 days!

Image from moviepilot.com
Image from moviepilot.com

I haven’t posted anything to the blog about this yet, because it seemed too surreal, but in two days, I’m leaving for a 10-day trip to Morocco.

Yes, Morocco. Totally random, right? I mean everything else on this blog is about Europe – how I’ve been saving up for it, planning itineraries, sharing tales of my adventures and so on.

And now I’m going to Africa.

Here’s how it happened:

The Contest

In March, I got a promo email from StudentUniverse, my ride-or-die site for booking flights, about a contest the company was hosting. Entrants were to create boards on Pinterest tagged #NeverHaveIEver and pin a bunch of travel-related things that they’ve always wanted to do, like skydiving, going snorkeling in Sydney, riding a gondola through Venice, etc. The grand prize was a trip to Morocco and $500 towards a flight.

Morocco had never crossed my mind as a destination to but on my bucket list, but I thought Y-O-HACTVMFF-O (you-only-have-a-chance-to-visit-Morocco-for-free-once), so I entered the contest.

Already a devoted pinner, I had no problem getting the board going. For the entire month of April I poured all pinning efforts into my Never Have I Ever board. Any free time I had before and during classes, I’d take to the board and pin pictures of all the beautiful cities I want to visit and crazy escapades I wanted to embark on.

neverhaveiever

For a month this went on, and along the way I shared some of my pins with StudentUniverse on Pinterest and Twitter, grasping their attention and promoting their contest. And then, about a week after the contest ended, I saw this tweet:

StudentUniverse Tweet

OHHHHH EMMMMM GEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!1!!1!!!!!1!!!!!!!

I couldn’t believe it. I won. I won a trip to Morocco. I was going to Morocco. Morocco. MOROCCO!

The Dilemma

I sent an email to the address provided and waited, and waited, and waited. I finally heard back and got the details of the contest. The tour dates are all pre-set, so I had to choose any from the list provided that worked for me.The only conditions were that the tour had to depart before the end of August and already have at least four people signed up.

That’s where I hit a brick wall. My internship was already letting me take off a month for my trip to Europe, so I definitely couldn’t take off another week to go to Morocco.

Frick.

The other option would be to go the last week before school starts, but then I’d be missing crucial preparation time.

Frickety.

Decision time. I sat on it for a while, evaluating pros and cons, but then had to smack myself upside the head (in Homer Simpson style) when I realized traveling to a new country was way more important than missing preparation time for my last year of college.

I sent StudentUniverse my dates and mentally prepared myself for the adventure that Morocco would bring. But then I got a response. The tour group I chose did have enough people signed up, so I couldn’t go on that one. I had to choose another tour date that departed the week after or the week prior. My only options, then, were to have my internship boss kill me (figuratively…kinda) or miss the first week of school.

FRACK.

I was forced to make an ultimate decision. I definitely couldn’t take off from my internship because I desperately needed the money to afford going on the trip (Young, Broke Traveler). That left me with option #2. (Keep in mind that I’m an honors student who’s had perfect attendance since kindergarten, graduated high school with a 4.0, and has been on the dean’s list every semester of college — and I’m not bragging, I’m just trying to convey how important school is to me!) It killed me to think of missing my first week  of class, but I also thought “When will I ever get another chance to experience northern Africa and spend a week learning about a culture completely different from what I’m used to, meeting people who will teach me a different way of life, and appreciating the natural beauty of the world?”

A trip to Morocco would teach me more than I could ever learn sitting in a class that first week of school. Plus, Y-O-HACTVMFF-O, right? I responded to the agents at StudentUniverse that I’ll take the tour to that goes from Aug. 30 – Sept. 6. And that was that.

I completely pushed Morocco out of my mind to return my focus to my Eurotrip. Over the next few months, Europe was all I thought about, wrote about and talked about. But now it’s Aug. 26, and I’ve got some preppin’ to do.

The Details

The tour, a G Adventures tour called Morocco Kasbahs & Desert, begins in Casablanca and heads through Meknes, Fes, Merzouga, Todra Gorge, Aït Ben Haddou and Marrakech. The 14 of us on the guided tour will be traveling in a quaint van from town to town, staying in hotels, walking through medinas and meeting locals. Midweek, we’ll even be hopping on camel-back (I’ll do my best to refrain from making Hump Day jokes) and riding out to the desert where we’ll camp out overnight.

Morocco Tour Map

Yeah, sounds better than sitting in a classroom taking notes on data analytics, doesn’t it?

I’m flying into Casablanca early to have an extra day to explore the city. I leave Thursday the 28th and will arrive early Friday morning, spending the day alone until my tourmates arrive the next day. Saying I’m nervous doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’m realizing how sheltered I’ve been traveling to touristy places where most people speak English or Spanish and I’ve been comfortable on my own. Morocco, while generally safe, is not the safest place for a young woman to travel alone due to the forwardness of most Moroccan men. And the primary languages spoken are Arabic and French, of which I know nothing. So I better not get lost.

I’m aware that I am freaking out for no reason and I’ll be fine — especially in a city as metropolitan as Casablanca. But for now I’m just doing my best to prepare and make sure everything can go as smoothly as possible. And trying to get the phrase “Here’s looking at you, kid” out of my head. 🙂

Have you been to Morocco? Casablanca? What did you think? Any advice to offer me?

9 Comments

    1. Thank you so much!! Yes it feels too good to be true! Despite my nerves, I know it’ll be an amazing time.

      I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures and share all about it when I get back!!! I hope you’ll get to make it sometime :)))

  1. What?!?! I didn’t think real people actually won these kinds of things!! This is so amazing! And don’t worry about taking time off school, a week out of 16 years of your life is not going to matter in the grand scheme of things.

    Also, I found that a LOT of people in Morocco speak Spanish, so don’t freak out. If you’re alone you’ll probs get harrassed a lot, but with a tour company you’ll be fine. Congrats and good luck, you’re going to love Morocco!!!

    1. I know!!!!!! I never win anything!!!! Which it why it’s so surreal. I’m responding from the airport right now and, sitting here, I still can’t believe it!
      Haha you’re so right. I think missing a few classes will be well worth it.

      That’s awesome you’ve been there! What was your favorite part? Where did you go? And okay it’s good to know a lot of people speak Spanish! It’s not my primary language, but if I get lost, I know how to ask for directions! I’ll only be along for about 2 days total, so it think I’ll be fine.

      Not sure how great wifi will be there, but I’ll be sure to share all about the trip when I get back!

      1. Aghh so excitiiiing!!! I went to Fez, Marrakech, and Tangier. My favorite part was the Hammam! You HAVE to go to one, but do a local one instead of a touristy one, it’ll be so much better. I also really loved the call to prayer and the amazing food. Go to the main square in Marrakech at night and get some 30 cent soup, it’s so good!

        I’m really happy you won the contest, I hope you have a blast! 🙂

      2. Okay!! Hammam, soup. Hammam, soup. Recording it in my brain! We’ll have a decent amount of free time during the tour, so I should be able to do both. :)) Thanks for the advice! I’m in Paris now, waiting for my connecting flight to Casablanca. Can’t wait.

  2. Congrats! That’s such an amazing opportunity. I went to Morocco with my study abroad program but we only visited Fez, Marrakech, and Tangier. My advice to you is keep your camera ready–I found the most amazing oceans. views in the backyard of rest stop. Also, try to make note of the names of foods–I remember that everything was delicious — but I can’t remember any specific names.

    1. Thanks for the awesome advice! I had my camera on the the whole time and you’re so right. Everywhere we went was so picturesque. And yes, the names of foods are so difficult to remember but I think I got down the basics — brochette, couscous and tajine!

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