Morocco: The Ultimate Adventure Past Review

By (Government and Sociology, The College of William and Mary) for

Arab American Language Institute in Morocco (AALIM): Intensive Arabic Direct Enrollment

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It is funny, I seemed to experience more of a culture shock coming back to America than going to Morocco. I knew that the U.S was vastly different from a majority of countries, but I think actually living amongst the people of Morocco for six weeks affirmed this statement. For one, friendship is extremely valued there. If you told someone, “Lets do lunch sometime,” it’s not an empty promise. One says what they mean, so people would be showing up at the doorstep for lunch that afternoon. Women link arms and chat with each other. Men hold hands or hang their arms around one another with no fear of having their masculinity being questioned…its just what good friends do. I also noticed there is really no obsession with work, or at least, not the “obsession” I am used to. The people there value their craft, and love doing it, but there is no drive to clock a certain amount of hours, no extreme deadlines, no constant preoccupation. The world seems to move slower and instead of doing the jitterbug through life, people just seem to glide. Even if it is not traveling to Morocco, I highly recommend the experience of just leaving what is regular and comfortable, even if it is just for a little while.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

My Arabic professor through the AALIM program was excellent! The grading was a little on the tough side though. When some of my classmates believed they were being graded unfairly and talked to the teacher they discovered that part of the philosophy was that receiving good grades all the time would allow for students to slack off in the next semester.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program size was perfect. for the most part the director of the program, Driss was highly accessible. At times there did seem to be a little bit of a disconnect between my professor and the student's idea of grading. We got through lessons quickly and efficiently and the homework/exams were at times challenging, but fair.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was placed in an extremely nice hotel. During the weeks, all meals except dinner were provided for through the program (breakfast at the hotel and lunch at the program). The hotel had a pool and the aesthetics were gorgeous, the hotel layout is surrounded by followers and orange trees. Fitness is a little bit of the issue, as a women running through the streets people tend to look at you really funny; but, I did become really good at swimming!

* Food:

I love Moroccan food! However, if you are a vegetarian I would highly suggest that you go on hiatus while in Morocco because it is a highly unusual term in the Arab world.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Hands-down best cultural/social experience of my life was riding camels in the Sahara. I feel like that sentence in itself sums it up pretty well.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Like any country, Morocco is all about being smart. There were never instances where I felt extremely threatened but that was because I was aware of my surroundings and there are always strength in numbers. When traveling to different cities I do recommend "adventuring" with at least one or two guy friends.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The dollar to dirham is relatively good in Morocco. However, I didn't realize I would be spending as much money on trips every weekend. There are only two trips included with the program but I was so in love the country I wanted to go to a different imperial city every weekend! I highly suggest it.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Arabic 101/102
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

For the most part, we had to use our Arabic skills every day. The city of Meknes, and the other imperial cities provide millions of opportunities to practice your skills and the people are so excited when you begin to use classical Arabic, the language of the Koran. Morocco was also once owned by the French for an extremely long period of time, so the citizens also speak excellent French.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Anyone who is interested in this program has to been open to new things and easy going. I can't tell you how many kids in the program 1) craved McDonald's burgers 2) complained about even the littlest of things. To me, studying abroad is all about the adventure of learning new things, meeting new people, and being in a different environment. Some, however, believed that they were going to be treated as they were back home and their dissatisfaction merely caused a very narrow-minded view of their trip. Morocco really taught me that there is so much happening in the world that is beyond my own little bubble, you just have to step outside of what is comfortable and normal and discover it!