An exhillerating, exhausting introduction to the Magrheb February 26, 2023

By (SOAN, Carleton College) - abroad from 08/29/2022 to 12/10/2022 with

SIT Study Abroad: Morocco - Migration and Transnational Identity

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
See above. Absolutely worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Intensity of the Arabic language and sociology/history courses was low. We were more or less handheld through our Introduction to Arabic course (that said, it was always a fun, enjoyable class), and the content matter and presentation in thematic courses wasn't much more rigorous. As much as I loved my professors, the value of the experience was derived outside of the classroom.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Outside of the final week and a half of the program, I didn't know the housing director's (? not sure what her title was, but essentially her role was to manage students' needs) name. And we met the chief director of the program for the first time during the farewell dinner. Taieb, et-Tibari, Asmae, and the rest of the professors and staff who we engaged with on a daily basis were absolutely wonderful. Administration, however, was mostly nonexistent until a COVID scare and mass-mobilization of students over lack of food stipends. To their credit, the latter was granted, but throughout the program students encountered several issues relating to housing, health, etc that went unfielded.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Homestays were good, even with outdated information regarding family rosters. The hotel we were housed in for the first and last weeks was servicable. The only issue people encountered was a lack of sufficient financial support and guidance for housing during the November ISP period. I found abnormally affordable single-person housing at the site of my internship, but my plans for this period would likely have been unviable had I not been so lucky.

* Food:

Homestay food was fine. Restaurant scene in Rabat is less than stellar. And we were mostly on our own during and after ISP period.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I don't have the energy to write about this. What is integration? As much as I could, I grew comfortable with the Moroccan environments in which I lived. I established as much of a rapport I could with my host family and other actors I met on busses, at the gym, on the beach, etc. By the time I returned to Rabat after ISP, I almost felt as if I was returning home. While language and cultural barriers were and always will be an ubiquity, I felt more or less at ease as a white American male. My positionality, however, is key: it is far easier for someone of my identity to walk around Morocco unbothered than others.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Neutral or N/A as I personally never encountered issues. Vaccines were not required.

* Safety:

Rabat is extremely safe for men.

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

While it wasn't always comfortable, clean, or easy, I loved my time in Morocco and already reflect on it with a tinge of nostalgia. The program gave me a unique four-month opportunity to engage with an unsanitized view of Morocco in which I explored race relations, geopolitics, Islam, and dozens of other thematic topics on a daily basis. I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage with migrants sans papiers at the continent's last frontier of migration near the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. And I learned more about this particular part of the world, the world at large, and most fundamentally myself than I would have had I spent the term at my home institution. I have nothing but good things to say about Taieb and et-Tibari, and look forward to returning to Morocco in the future.


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $30
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Take advantage of your homestay and minimize eating out. Barter in the souk. And prepare for the ISP and post-ISP periods of the program; it is during these that you'll be spending the most out of your own pocket.


* 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 were certainly encouraged to employ Arabic in our homestays, around Rabat, and while on ISP; however, I and other Intro to Arabic students came into the program without even knowing the alphabet, so outside of ordering food and telling people how my day went I wasn't able to do much. This isn't the fault of the program, but the nature of language learning and our schedule.

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? In Arabic? None.
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? Again, use your homestay.

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 professors: Taieb, et-Tibari, Asmae in particular
  • The experential nature; I was forced to be independent, even as I was in my homestay but especially during ISP
  • The WORLD CUP!!!
* What could be improved?
  • Administration communication and availability
  • Expectations re: language; intro students should not be expected to mobilize Arabic during ISP (to be fair this was not really an issue in practice)
  • Increased housing and food stipends during ISP
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You will be forced out of several comfort zones. I know this sounds obvious; you're launching yourself into a study abroad program in North Africa. Living abroad is exciting, intoxicating, and exhillerating. But it's also exhausting, especially an experential program like this one. Expect to figure most things out independently. This may sound intuitive, but some students on the program expected a replication of our American private liberal arts bubble. You will not find that here, and do not come to Morocco if that is what you expect.

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.'