While studying abroad for a semester in France, I had the opportunity to visit approximately a dozen countries. The most culturally enriching experience was the four days I spent staying in the heart of the Medina in Casablanca, Morocco. Admittedly, I picked Casablanca because it was the cheapest flight and because I love the film named after it. Although many friends told me I should have booked a trip to Marrakech instead, I remained optimistic and was rewarded with a wonderful, peaceful weekend in a beautiful port city unlike any I have ever been to.

So many things about Casablanca are so drastically different than what I was accustomed to. The streets are narrow and constantly bustling with cars, motorbikes, and pedestrians, and every morning I woke up to the sound of morning prayers being led over the loudspeaker from the mosque down the street. Morocco is unlike anywhere else I have ever been, yet I was frequently reminded of home.

The hospitality shown to me by my hosts and the shop owners in the Medina helped me to recall the kindness that Kansas City is so well known for. There was a group of children that played soccer every afternoon and between games of tag we would sit and I’d listen to their stories from school, just like the children I have babysat and watched grow up in my own neighborhood. At the time I had already been living abroad for four months, but this was quite honestly the first time I felt homesick. Between wandering through the Medina, visiting the beautiful Hassan II Mosque, and eating a whole lot of tajine, I was able to find a little piece of home in this wonderful new land, and it brings me joy to think that someone from Casablanca might be able to find a piece of home here, too.

Jessie Roach is a senior at the University of Kansas studying Global and International Studies and Political Science.