Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia, USA
Explored: Lyon, France, Spain, and Morocco
About: University of Virginia Student
"Hey folks, my name is Ben and I’m a third year student at UVA. Currently abroad for the spring semester in Lyon, France, I’ve had the pleasure of recently traveling to Spain and Morocco for my winter vacation (at the end of February!). While I plan on touring Europe further this semester, I want to briefly share some impressions these new places have made upon me.
France is a wonderful country whose inhabitants are very concerned with enjoying all of life’s indulgences – leisure time, vacations spent with friends and family, and 2-3 hour meals. Unique to this city are the bountiful Bouchons, centuries-old establishments that offer flavors of the Lyonnais cuisine within intimate atmospheres. Living with a host family in the center of the city, I’ve been exposed to an interesting clash of history and modernity – strong religious roots are reflected by an insane amount of Catholic churches, while attention à la mode (the world of fashion) is an ever-changing topic. Compared to the States, European people are nearly always better dressed, taking pride in wearing the same ballin’ outfit for days on repeat.
Morocco was a truly eye-opening experience compared to the Westernized countries of France and Spain. My first time in a religiously dominated country, I quickly grew familiar with the 5:30am prayer calls megaphoned throughout the cities of Chefchaouen, Fez, and Marrakech. A politics and economics major at UVA, I was fascinated by a tour guides’ insights about the conservative government of Morocco. Although a democratic parliament exists, it remains subservient to the Royal family, essentially just a facade. However, an expansion of education has lead to increased liberal and more opened-minded opinions among the younger generations of Moroccans. It will be interesting to see if the mix of monarchical and democratic government lasts over time. "