A cultural rather than academic experience Past Review

By (Political Science And International Studies, Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/24/2013 to 05/16/2014 with

AMIDEAST Rabat - Area & Arabic Language Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Of course I learned about Morocco: its history, culture, politics, food, language, etc. But I think what I gained most was socially/internally, both being in constant contact with the same 27 people for four months and with having to deal with constantly new experiences, whether in my daily commute to school, when hanging out with Moroccan friends, or traveling around the country.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

While classes in Amideast were overall good, I would not consider them anywhere near the level of my home institution's classes. Readings for classes rarely ran over 75-100 pages a week and, in many classes, weren't actually necessary. Papers were lightly graded, with students getting A's and B's on papers that they called their worst paper ever. Some assignments were forgotten by the professors or were allowed to be ignored by the students. However, I will say that if classes had been as intense as they are in the States, I would not have had nearly as many opportunities as I had to get out and explore Morocco. I still learned things for the most part, but there is clearly a trade-off in studying abroad.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

In general, the staff were useful and happy to help. Doha and Sarah Daoudi in particularly were pleasant additions to being abroad and were always ready to be of assistance.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

There are always going to be awkward parts of living with a host family, but in general the Amideast-approved families were a nice addition to the study abroad experience.

* Food:

Although some people had stomach problems with the food and water, Moroccan food is delicious. Just be ready for a lot of it--and some additional weight.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It's never going to be possible to be fully integrated as an outsider but I still feel as if Amideast could have worked to better integrate us. The language partner program was hit-or-miss, with some language partners being amazing and others being largely absent; many Americans simply tried to avoid their language partner regardless. An added level of complication is that many of the language partners were busy with their university studies and, as Amideast students are in their own program building interacting only with other Americans all day, it can be harder to get to know and have common interaction with Moroccans of our age group.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health care was largely easy to use. Amideast's insurance paid for all of my expenses when I had to see a doctor or get medicine, and for general check ups, Amideast brought the doctor to you. However, health care still isn't the same level as it is in America so diagnoses and prescriptions aren't always as effective as you might desire.

* Safety:

Rabat is an extremely safe city, and Morocco as a whole--excepting a few cities like Sale and Casablanca--is also safe. I never felt threatened. However, as I am a male, I also did not have to deal with sexual harassment, which was largely a daily occurrence for the female participants in the program. I don't think it ever came close to threatening any of their lives but it is an added part of life to take into account.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Morocco is a fairly cheap country, and Amideast's weekly meal stipend helped offset costs of eating during school days. Breakfast and dinner were provided by the host families, removing those costs. Daily transportation is also cheap. The biggest expense was traveling during weekends and breaks, which can add up quickly--especially if you're traveling to Europe. However, even then, I rarely found myself spending more than $100 for a weekend trip, which would be the cost of the hotel alone in the U.S.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Although the program made a handful of attempts to encourage us to use the language, it largely left it to our own discretion outside of Arabic class.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Beginning Arabic
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? To get the most out of being in Morocco, you can't just speak the language in class. You need to get out, don't be afraid to use it on the streets and mess up, watch the news in Arabic, etc. Make friends, attempt to use it when traveling, and so on. For those with some French, it is very easy to hide behind it and avoid speaking Arabic. Also, for those in the higher (200+) levels of Arabic, Media Arabic is a great resource for improving your Fusha.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Location (Rabat)
  • Kind staff
  • Moroccan food
* What could be improved?
  • Darija classes
  • Required program activities
  • Inflexible bureaucracy (D.C. HQ vs. the Rabat office)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Although I was in Morocco for nine months, I feel as if I only started to really take advantage of it a bit into my second semester. Therefore, I would definitely travel more, try and meet more Moroccans (and other foreigners for that matter, since there are a lot of foreign students going to university in Rabat), and put myself into more new situations.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!