Challenging but totally worth it February 26, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/03/2018 to 12/21/2018 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury In Rabat, Morocco

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Arabic arabic arabic Taking care of myself Going out of my comfort zone (traveling outside Rabat)

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.

The academic rigor was extremely challenging. I knew this going into the program and it was was one of the reasons I was attracted to the Middlebury program in Morocco in the first place. There were times however, when I felt overwhelmed by the amount of work. At the end of the semester, I remember having a quiz, a test and a presentation all in one day. To keep my sanity, I gave myself a time limit each day for how much work I would spend on the homework and preparations for class. I enjoyed most of my professors. My Darija professor was kind and energetic. My Fusha professor challenged us and we did most of our work out of al-Kitaab which I did well with. I did not like my Politics in MENA professor. Part of this could have been because I have studied politics in the Middle East extensively in the past and the class focused on very general topics (democracy, Arab spring, terrorism).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Achraf and Samir are wonderful, helpful and easy-going, but they also really encourage you to speak Arabic. They care about your welbeing and progress on the program. Do not hesitate to ask questions about the city, ask for tips about where to travel/landmarks to visit, or just complain to them if you aren't happy with something. You are paying for this program (which is a lot of money) so you need to have your needs met!!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in an apartment in Hassan with a father, a mother who worked in the home and a 5 year old girl. My host family was wonderful. My mom was very sweet and took care of me when I was sick with a sinus-infection. If you need something, tell them and I'm sure they will be happy to help. They will give you a key so if you want to stay out late you can let yourself in. There were two main things that were frustrating about living with a host family. My 5 year old host sister was spoiled, she wanted to hang out with me all the time, did not respect my personal space and I felt at times like I needed to spend time with her or be her babysitter. After about a month, I started to spend much less time at home so this became less of an issue. The second issue with the host-family living arrangement was that there was not a place where my friends and I could hang out all together without adults around. The university building we were in closed at 6:15pm so we had to leave by then.

* Food:

The food was incredible! I must have gained 5-10 pounds. I ate a lot of street food (lentils, chicken sandwiches, beans, msemen with egg and cheese, msemen with almond butter. There are great coffee shops and bakeries around the city, but I wouldn't spend more than 15 dirhams on a hot beverage. Beware of places that seem to marketed towards a Western audience--the food is way overpriced!! Food may be difficult if you are vegan or if you have a lot of allergies.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I definitely felt like I mostly stayed in the Middlebury Bubble. I made fantastic friends on the program and really enjoyed spending time with them because they understood exactly what I was going through. Something that really turned me off of the local culture was the almost daily street harassment. It happened everywhere, not matter how conservatively I dressed, and at every time of day (but more so at night). I did feel like there was less of this (surprisingly) in the clubs and bars, because a young white woman is held to different standards than Moroccan women. I never talked back to my harassers because of safety. I also did not want to encourage them. Dealing with the harassment without losing my mind and punching someone was one of the most difficult parts of this trip. Something that helped me was talking about it with other women on your program, because they are surely experiencing the same thing.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was sick with a sinus infection for a long time (about two months). I spent a considerable amount of money on medical care but BEWARE. The doctors will overprescribe medication. Often this medication was not useful. You need to be very persistent if you need a certain type of medication that they don't prescribe you.

* Safety:

Morocco is an incredibly safe country. I would avoid, however, going into Salé without a Moroccan friend that knows the area. People can be more aggressive towards foreigners (particularly female foreigners) in this area. You will very likely not deal with harassment if you are with a man. I rarely felt threatened or unsafe. One person yelled at me for being a foreigner. Another person followed me home. It is important to understand that if you are a white woman, you will be very visible and this can be frustrating especially coming from America where it is so easy to blend in.

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

Finances

* 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)

3. Everything is less expensive in Morocco than in the U.S.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Agdal is arguably the most 'Western' area of the city and I will admit it is pretty nice. There is a McDonalds, a Starbucks and a lot of French and Moroccan clothing stores. It is expensive around this area though and there are much cheaper (and just as nice) options elsewhere. I liked the area around the Rabat Gare.

Language

* 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

We took the Middlebury language pledge (only arabic 24/7)

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
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? Speak English to make friends on your program and stay sane but try to use Arabic as much as possible.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* 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?
  • traveling
  • Moroccan friends
  • American friends
* What could be improved?
  • Tram is very crowded
  • Too much busy-work
  • Would have rather lived with other students on my program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The time will fly by. Take advantage of the time you have!!! Its okay to be homesick

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.'