In my high school French class, we read the novella Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I love slightly sentimental quotes, and this is one that stood out to me:
This winter, I feel really lucky to escape the Hanover cold and study abroad in Paris on the French Foreign Study Program. With cheese tastings, weekly excursions into the city for class, free admission to most museums (lookin’ at you, Louvre), and daily access to fresh chocolate eclairs, this term has most likely been my favorite one yet. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in everything that goes on in Hanover, especially when you are surrounded by inspirational, talented, and interesting members of the Dartmouth community, but Dartmouth provides amazing study abroad opportunities that remind me that the world is bigger than the Upper Valley area. And I am eternally grateful for the supportive community I receive both on campus and abroad as a result of Dartmouth’s programs.
We’re following the French academic calendar and are currently on break, during which all of us are taking advantage of the proximity of France to other countries. 3 other students and I decided to go to Morocco for 5 days — Marrakech with the souks and Essaouira on the coast. We saw the sunset 4 days in a row. In Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains and the minaret of the Koutoubia were all lit against a background of brilliant pastel colors, and from the terrace of our hostel, we could hear the call to prayers around us. It was like being at the eye of the most exciting and beautiful tornado, with the madness of the streets below and the tranquility of the beauty of the sky.
I thought of the quote from Le Petit Prince. I guess there’s some truth to it. I felt both blessed and guilty to be alive, healthy, and safe in that moment because there are many people who don’t get to experience Marrakech, or even Morocco, or even life the way I got to on our hostel terrace or by the sea in Essaouira — whether that be due to physical disadvantages, societal constraints, financial limits, etc. And I guess that made me kind of sad.
Anyway, this year, for me, has been full of reminders to appreciate the splendors of life; to live purposefully; and to take advantage of free weekends to explore some part of the world to broaden my mind. I’m glad I got to travel with intellectually stimulating, adventurous, responsible, and fun classmates because their company made a world of a difference, and our conversations inspired me with ideas to pursue once I return to campus.