Incredible and Challenging Program Past Review

By (International Politics, Georgetown University) - abroad from 08/30/2015 to 12/12/2015 with

SIT Study Abroad: Morocco - Multiculturalism and Human Rights

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This program helped me solidify the topic for my major thesis and has lead me to pursue a Fulbright fellowship in Morocco so I can continue my research. This program really was life reaffirming for me.

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.

The academic rigor is certainly different than my home university, however, I still learned a great deal. Human Rights is such a broad topic that covering it in an in depth manner can be a challenge and this program suffered from that sometimes. It was still overall hugely impactful because of the opportunity to do independent research. The Indendent Study Project (ISP) is a very unique aspect of SIT programs and the chance to design a research question, develop methodology, and use my language skill was incredible. The ISP was the highlight of the program and made up for the sometimes unorganized classroom time.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The CCCL host the program and overall does a great job. The lunches they provide are excellent and the building clean and beautiful. They provide access to a library and reliable wifi. In terms of the student to staff ratio though there are issues. The CCCL is understaffed and SIT asks them to do so much but they simply don't have the resources to accomplish all of it. But the understaffing really did not hamper my ability to enjoy Morocco.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

It really depend on your host family, however, mine was incredible. I plan on going back to visit them. My family was incredibly kind and patient. If, however, you and your family are not a good match immediately, you can request to move and the homestay director does a good job of finding you a more suitable situation.

* Food:

I loved Moroccan cuisine and especially the opportunities to cook with my host family. You do have to be prepared to try new things and step outside your comfort zone, but if you need a does of american cuisine, sushi, or Italian there are a variety of cheap and good restaurants in Rabat to try.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt easily and quickly integrated into the local culture. This was facilitated by my host family. I was lucky because I have a good command of both Arabic and French which made communication relatively easy. Overall, you will become as integrated as you want. If you make an effort and reach out to people, Moroccan will return the effort with great enthusiasm.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have to receive any medical attention, although SIT could do a much better job at providing access mental health services, especially for students struggling with street harassment. But what is important to remember is that Morocco still has limited health infrastructure compared to the US, so if you study abroad you need to be prepared by bringing medicines from home and talking with doctors at home beforehand.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe. There is certainly street harassment, both racial and sexually motivated, however, this does not prevent you from exploring the city. With common sense and caution in new places, I never felt threatened. The issues of street crime and harassment are not unique to Morocco. I experienced them living in Jordan and in India, and would say that I felt much safer in Morocco.

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

It was certainly the right program for me. I loved every minute of it, but it is a program best suited to those with a serious interest in Arabic and who want to conduct independent research.

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)

All food is provided so the only expense are eating out or buying snacks if you want them, all of which is very cheap. Traveling around the country is also inexpensive.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 15-20$

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

Use of language is certainly encouraged, but can be difficult if you have no background in Arabic or French. The crash course in Darija at the beginning was not sufficient to make communication possible for those who lacked background in the other languages. But with effort speaking with your host family and local people is very much possible, again it is about how much you want to try. People are very patient with your speaking, they just appreciate the effort you make.

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? Two years of intensive study of Arabic, and a summer in Jordan; along with 6 years of French
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? I would not recommend this program for students with no background in either French or Arabic. If you speak so French you will be fine, but lacking competency in both will make your first few weeks abroad very difficult and mean your community is very isolated to only english speakers

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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • My host family
  • doing independent research
  • surfing/living my the ocean
* What could be improved?
  • access to mental health resources
  • the organization of classroom time
  • preparing students for the realities of living in Morocco (limited infrastructure, harassment) before they leave
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I felt very prepared for this program, but I would recommend students really consider their language ability and a willingness to be very independent when choosing the program. It is best suited to people who want to do research, know some Arabic or are passionate about learning it, and who are ready to be totally outside of their comfort zone.

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.'