Go to Morocco! Past Review

By (United States Military Academy) - abroad from 08/22/2016 to 12/16/2016 with

AMIDEAST Rabat - Area & Arabic Language Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Maybe the most important thing I learned is how difficult it is to be a foreigner anywhere. I now have much more empathy of immigrants and refugees struggling in a strange new place.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Attendance is required (you have a small allowance of unexcused absences before your course grade begins to drop), but other than that, most instructors are lax about homework and grade assigments generously. If you are self-motivated, the program can be more rigorous and the instructors are happy to give you their time in and out of class. Basically, the academic rigor is as tough as you make it.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was responsive to student wants. Schedules were kept-to.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a family who were lovely hosts. I believe real immersion is made possible by living with a host family. Everything me and my roommate wanted was taken care of. If you are willing to put up with small inconveniences (perhaps spotty wifi, no air conditioning, small bed), there can be no complaint about host family generosity. Amideast will work with you if you need to change host families for some reason. Some other students in the program chose to do this.

* Food:

Maybe I lucked out, but every meal my host mother made was gourmet. All meals provided.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I met amazing Moroccans, celebrated Eid Al-Adha with my family, and learned some Darija. A couple weeks after I left Morocco I noticed that I adopted a weird Moroccan cultural idiosyncracy. When people offer me something, I say no and expect them to keep offering, and consider it rude if they don't. Overall, I wish I'd integrated more, but I felt homesick and latched onto the company of other Americans.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got stomach sick toward the beginning of the program and wanted to tough it out, but my concerned host parents called the program coordinator, who talked to me and then arranged a home visit by a doctor. The home visit (2 doctors) plus about 4 medications cost me about the equivalent of $45. Then the insurance covered all of it. Healthcare is good and inexpensive. Use it if you need it.

* Safety:

Disclaimer: I am a heterosexual white male. I felt very safe in Rabat. If you are openly gay, be aware that it is "illegal to be gay" in Morocco. Talk to a gay person who has been to Morocco before you go. If you are brown, you will probably be harrassed. My black friend was called "Obama" repeatedly and my Indian-American friends were called "Hind". Moroccans don't consider this to be harrassment. Americans do. If you are female, you will almost certainlly be cat-called. Little boys might try to touch you on the street. All that said, if you make a scene, other Moroccans will jump to your rescue, and though there is verbal harrassment, I think physical assault is much more rare in Rabat than it is in most American cities.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I would have chosen a more immersive and intense program. If you want to learn about Morocco and learn some Arabic and have a great time, choose this program. If you want to be proficient in Arabic, choose another program.


* 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)

$16/week if you buy lunch and tram tickets to get to and from school. A weekend travelling within Morocco is approximately $60. Everything is super cheap.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 160 Dh ($16)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Save your shopping for after you've been in Rabat a while. Then you'll have a better appreciation for what things cost and what are tourist traps that are sold everywhere. Try a bunch of different cafes near the Amideast building for the first few weeks or so to find what is cheap and good. If you want to travel, talk to the student coordinator and she will hook you up.


* 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

The Arabic teachers insisted we use Arabic (at least in the upper-level classes). Administrative staff were happy to chat in English.

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? I had completed 4 semesters of MSA and 1 semester of Levantine 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? Make Moroccan friends and spend time with them. Spend time with your host family. Watch TV. Listen and speak and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Be patient and appreciate your small successes.

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?
  • My Arabic teacher
  • My host mother
  • the natural beauty of Morocco
* What could be improved?
  • Academic rigor
  • Amideast-home institution coordination on course availability
  • refining the excursions
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known that home-sickness would affect me. I went in thinking I would be tough, but I ended up spending too much time with Americans and not enough time with Moroccans because I missed home and couldn't deal with it in any other way.