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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Eva Rom: Independent travel to Morocco

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    11 Dec

    This September, my sister and I realised a dream of ours. We travelled to Morocco and climbed the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains, Jbel Toubkal. We grew up in the Alps and both of us love spending time in the mountains, but we have never ventured outside of Europe to go hiking. While working towards my MPhil degree in Cambridge, I have started taking Arabic language classes at the Language Centre and have become fascinated by that language with its numerous dialects. This trip to Morocco allowed me to combine my obsession with mountain climbing with my interest in the Arabic speaking world. I expected this week to turn out intense and full of new experiences – and Morocco did not disappoint!

    We travelled with a group of eleven other mountain-infatuated people. The trip was organised by the German Alpine Club (DAV). We flew to Marrakesh and left for a small village in the mountains the next day. This is where the hiking began. The day of the summit attempt was exhausting, but after three hours, our group reached the summit at an altitude of 4,167 metres. We were rewarded with a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and the plains in the distance, accompanied by a sense of achievement. After two more days in Marrakesh, one of Morocco’s four former imperial cities, exploring the historic Old Town and the newer parts of the city, our trip came to an end. 

    I am grateful to have made this trip for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the climb itself was awesome. Similar to academic pursuits, one needs a healthy dose of ambition and resilience, but also some experience of what to expect in the first place. But such an expedition is about so much more than sports. For one thing, it is a team effort. You have to rely on your team members: since you spend so much time with them in an unfamiliar and unique setting, you get to know all of them very well very fast and more often than not, real friendships grow out of those chance encounters. 

    Another aspect I really enjoyed was that such a trip gave me the opportunity to see not only the very touristy cities, but also parts of the countryside. Morocco is an extremely multi-faceted country with a rich history. The villages we visited are mainly inhabited by Berber tribes with their very own ancient culture and distinctive dialect, a far cry from what modern Casablanca looks like.

    I am very grateful that the Gateway Challenges programme has helped me finance this trip. I will start a new job in October and this week in Morocco has been a great ending not only to this summer, but also to my time in the United Kingdom. I am sure the numerous impressions will stay with me for a long time to come. 

    Eva Rom
    Theoretical and Applied Linguistics