An Eye-Opening and Rewarding Semester in Morocco Past Review

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CIEE: Rabat - Language and Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My study abroad experience was absolutely worthwhile. I have changed and become more globally-aware. I wasn't sure if I would find Arabic too difficult or uninteresting, but I have found another language that I love. I have made good friends in another country and learned to be more independent. Morocco is somewhere I would like to spend time again, possibly volunteering, teaching or working.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Université Mohammed V- Souissi
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.

I took a PoliSci class in French, a Moroccan Culture class in English, a Gender Studies course in English, an Intensive Moroccan Arabic class and a Beginner Standard Arabic class. My Arabic classes were phenomenal. We studied at Qalam wa Lawh, an Arabic school in Rabat. I don't feel that I would have received the same quality of instruction in Arabic in the United States. My French PoliSci class, although interesting, was equally a history class. My professor gave us three assignments all semester, which was very different from a course at PC which gives a dozen assignments, papers and tests throughout the semester. My Gender Studies class was also very interesting. Although my professor was Moroccan, she studied in the US for some time, so she was familiar with the American educational system. She gave more assignments and was more focused on completing lectures and planning class discussions. The Moroccan culture class incorporated more history and politics than I would have liked, given the fact that I was already taking a PoliSci class. However, it was still very interesting, and as part of the class, our group traveled to Fes and Marrakesh. I rarely received letter or number grades on assignments; instead, my professors would respond with comments on our papers, or simply say that the whole class had done very well. Overall, the workload was less stressful than the workload at PC, although I feel that I learned as much, if not more, in Morocco because I was immersed in the culture I was studying.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall, I am very happy with the CIEE program in Rabat. Our resident director was wonderful: She organized trips, hosted get-togethers at her house, suggested cultural events to attend and local places to visit, organized a Thanksgiving dinner, etc. She is Moroccan but grew up in the US, so she understood our backgrounds. CIEE was also very helpful with pre-departure questions and concerns; every time I called CIEE in Portland, I was given thorough answers and everyone was very patient with me. CIEE did a good job sending us information about Morocco and preparing us for the semester, although we received little information about our hist families before we left. It wasn't until our third day that we found out our house families and living situations. Although I was very curious about who I would be living with, I feel that it's actually best to wait until you arrive in the country to find out information about the host family. There were fourteen of us in the program, which was a perfect size for me. In general, CIEE exceeded my expectations in almost every way and I am so glad I chose to study abroad in Morocco through CIEE.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

As part of our pre-departure preparation, we filled out surveys for housing arrangements. The only housing arrangement offered was with a host family (which was my preferred housing arrangement anyways). I lived in downtown Rabat, in a busy area. I never felt unsafe in Morocco. I was close enough to school, and walking distance from the medina, the Kasbah, and the Rabat beach. My location was perfect. My bedroom was fully furnished and my host family was very hospitable. I feel that my host family was very well suited for me.

* Food:

I had no dietary restrictions, however, my family did eat lamb and sheep (particularly after Eid), and I don't eat lamb or sheep. My host mother was very accommodating and would substitute chicken, eggs or fish for me.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Our program arranged trips to the medina, to an Amazigh concert in Rabat, a trip to Salé (the sister city of Rabat), a trip to a pottery cooperative in Salé, a tour of major sites in Rabat, and many other trips.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Rabat was very safe. Obviously, I didn't walk alone at night in the city. However, even at night there a lot of people out and I felt safe walking home from school or taking a taxi alone. I had no major health issues, but there are plenty of pharmacies in Rabat.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

While abroad, I spoke French, Arabic and English. Two of my courses were conducted in English, and I normally conversed with the other students in my group in English. I took one course in French, and spoke mainly French to the host family with whom I lived, although I also practiced Moroccan Arabic with them. I took and two week Intensive Moroccan Arabic course, as well as a semester-long Beginner Arabic course. Given the fact that I had no knowledge of Arabic before arriving in Morocco, I think the Arabic courses helped me excel in the language. I learned so much more through these Arabic courses than I would have learned in a semester at PC. I spoke French or Moroccan Arabic to people in the street, in stores, at markets, etc. My director spoke with all of us in English. Although some Moroccans spoke English, I really needed French and/or Moroccan Arabic for everyday interactions.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Arabic courses at Qalam wa Lawh
  • home stay and location in Rabat
  • small size of the program
* What could be improved?
  • more course selections (for example, only one French course was offered this semester)
  • even more weekend trips to other cities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A student who is independent, self-motivated, curious, tolerant, respectful and adventurous would best enjoy this program.