Everything I Was Looking For Past Review

By (University of Vermont) - abroad from 01/31/2018 to 05/18/2018 with

IES Abroad: Rabat - Study in Rabat

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
In Morocco I learned that difference is the warmest reason for people to reach out and connect to each other. A little willingness to speak Darija, the local dialect, and every Moroccan I met wanted to have a conversation. My host family was my real family, with astounding hospitality I could never have expected. The religion I most often heard about in news allegations at home became a cultural foundation rich in history, art, science, and morality. I learned that a good day is smiling and laughing at what is good in a day, no matter what else happens beside it.

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.

I took 3 courses including the double-credit Arabic course, I audited 1 course, and I attended a university course in French that began later in the semester. The workload was manageable enough to travel or explore most weekends, but I did feel busy studying every week day. There was not as much work as I expected in similar subjects at my home university, but the subject material always seemed to permeate my day to day life, and time to learn outside of the classroom was much needed. If you’re heart is set on taking a university course with local students, just keep in mind that the University schedule doesn’t always work out with the IES course schedule. The limited options and university timing changes meant that not all students were able to do so. My professors at IES were engaging, dedicated, and willing to help me as much as they could. I really valued the time I had to learn from them!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved living in a host family. My host family was my real family, with astounding hospitality I could never have anticipated. My host mom was an amazing cook and I always appreciated how she took care of the family. I had to adjust to the lifestyle, having new siblings, sharing some spaces, but doing so meant humbly experiencing the culture I was in.

* Food:

Wow, Moroccan food. The foodie in me was excited every day. The fruit lover in me beamed at all the fresh fruit smoothies. My sweet tooth sang at Rabat's bakery paradise. And it's true, Morocco knows how to spice a meal. Food was a significant part of social gatherings and hospitality. It was easily affordable (1 USD was about 9 Moroccan Dirhams and less than 10 USD could earn you a meal at a restaurant with dessert). If you love food, you will LOVE Rabat. My host mom prepared every meal for her family and encouraged me to try new things. My walk home was a path of temptation from bakeries, sandwich shops, smoothie stands, fresh fruit carts. Moroccan "pancakes", we all miss you.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While it was easy to stand out as a white American, I felt confident knowing that I had a Moroccan family to answer my questions and show me how they go about their lives. I felt encouraged to learn from Moroccans by learning and using the languages people spoke (Darija, French, some Modern Standard Arabic). I was able to interact with local people at events in the city and the local University.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

My program provided us with a healthcare program.

* Safety:

Safety in Rabat for me was about getting used to what to expect and how to handle it. It's good to go somewhere with others if you're unsure about an area. I became very comfortable with walks to and from the center and to other places I had frequented in the city by myself. I'd recommend traveling outside of Rabat with a friend or more. I usually walked with others if out at night.

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

Rabat, Morocco was my unexpected destination that brought forth everything I was looking for in a study abroad experience: cultural encompassment; a vibrant, colorful, delicious-food experience that would surround me in loud and beautiful difference; a warm new home by the beach; travel opportunities and the chance for all kinds of cities and landscape; and most importantly, language learning, to continue learning French with native speakers and to be involved in the magnificent use of multiple languages.


* 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)

$1 was worth about 9 Moroccan Dirhams. This meant that food and supplies was very affordable. It was possible to not spend money daily since our host families provided us with 3 meals a day. Travel to another city wasn't more than $40 for a train ticket both ways. Once in a city, I could stay in a hostel for $10 a night or split an Airbnb with friends.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $14


* 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

(This rating is for Darija and Modern Standard Arabic. I also used French to communicate with my host family.) To interact with any Moroccans outside of the center I would use French or Darija. My host family spoke Darija to each other. I practiced Darija and French with my little brother and used both to make purchases in the city.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? no prior 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? Moroccans were so encouraging to non-native speakers who tried to communicate. Morocco is rewarding place to learn a new language if you’re nervous about practicing. Try to use the language you're learning in every chance you get. Try to say new things, make connections, and communicate what you're really feeling.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • The location
  • The hospitality (e.g. my caring host family and their wonderful cooking)
  • The languages
* What could be improved?
  • communication between IES staff and the local university
  • familiarizing with more life styles in the city
  • the transition from the end of classes to the end of the program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I felt as comfortable with safety at the beginning of the program as I did in the end. I wish that I had looked into local events more early on (I found a weekly open mic night at the local cinema only in the last month of the program!). Mostly I wish that I left Rabat a day or two after the program was over (instead of the same night) so that I could have said a smoother goodbye to Rabat and my host family.

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!