Incredibly Difficult, but Incredibly Worth It Past Review

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/29/2016 to 12/15/2016 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury In Rabat, Morocco

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a better knowledge of Arabic, a familiarity with an Arabic and Islamic culture, and an appreciation of Moroccan cuisine, primarily. It was all worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

This rating is hard, because while I progressed so much in my level of Arabic, which was the primary goal, I don't feel that I took away all that I had hoped for from my content courses. I felt like I was constantly working, but not necessarily getting a lot out of the courses besides the improvement of my Arabic. In fact, we kept having to ask our teachers to pull back on the amount of homework; with our Arabic classes meeting every day, and our content courses meeting every other day, we were constantly in class. To add significant amounts of homework to that, on a daily basis, was just too much.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Samir and Achraf were always there for us and willing to listen to any suggestions or complaints.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was absolutely wonderful, in terms of cultural experience, food, and living arrangements, especially privacy.

* Food:

Personally, my experience with food was great, although I know I can't say that for everyone. There was definitely a reluctance to let our host families know our preferences, which shouldn't be a problem.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt more integrated thanks to my host family, and because I went to school like a normal student on the tram. Besides that however, I didn't really feel integrated into Rabat culture, although I think I would have more if I had stayed for the whole year. Honestly, I talked to many more Moroccans when traveling than I did in Rabat for some reason. Maybe because I was already out of my comfort zone, or because the situation necessitated it more often, I'm not sure.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Rabat is very safe, and my host parents always tried to make sure that I had a safe method of transportation if I was going out with friends late at night.

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

Honestly, I didn't enjoy a lot of my experience, but I think that was a lesson that had to be learned, and I'm glad I learned it the way I did. I had never lived in a culture so different from my own before, despite having lived abroad before. It was a true culture shock. In addition, my program was very difficult because it was the first semester. I know that in upcoming semesters, they'll incorporate our feedback and lighten the workload, hire some new and better professors, etc.


* 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 very inexpensive, so weeks where I didn't want to go out much, or we weren't traveling, I could do just fine with $20. Traveling with the program that weekend meant that my budget for the week might go up to $40-$50, and on my own or with friends meant $50-80. It just depends on how well you can budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Transportation was up to us, and as we never got tram passes because we never received our student ids, the tram cost about $5 each week. Food costs were minimal, especially for me, unless we went out or I really wanted snacks: anywhere between $1 to $10.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Definitely save up beforehand, as there's really no way to make money there, and I rarely had the time or energy to do jobs that could be done remotely, like transcription or writing. Getting a student id from the university is unlikely, so just get a tram pass right away: it'll cost $20 instead of $15 every month, but you'll still be saving money. At the beginning, you'll think everything is super cheap and feel free to spend as much as you want: hold back! It adds up quickly, all those unnecessary teas at cafes and overpriced American candy.


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 202
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? This program is pretty much total immersion. You'll have plenty of time to work on your formal Arabic in class, so don't stress about that when you're not at school or working on homework. Really focus on learning the local language because that's what's going to impress people, and get you included in important conversations. Nobody likes speaking formal Arabic, so you'll only be included in dinner table discussions within a large family (like mine was) if you can speak, or understand, the local dialect.

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?
  • My host family
  • The administration
  • My classmates
* What could be improved?
  • The workload
  • Course organization and expectations
  • How much time is spent studying/at the university as opposed to in the culture
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Morocco is an incredibly diverse country in terms of climates and regions. It's helpful to know French, as the local Arabic incorporates a significant amount, but to a certain extent not knowing it is helpful as it forces people to actually speak to you in Arabic.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'