Kul Shi Muzein - A Semester in Morocco Past Review

By (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill) - abroad from 01/31/2016 to 05/14/2016 with

SIT Study Abroad: Morocco - Multiculturalism and Human Rights

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I left Morocco with a new awareness of my own capabilities. I was able to thrive in a country where I didn't speak the local language fluently, but I still had the best semester I've had yet. I would go back to Morocco in a heartbeat. I think studying abroad, wherever you go, is a great way to learn about the world and yourself.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The CCCL staff, particularly the program assistants, were excellent! They made themselves available at all times and were ready to help you with anything, be it translation or a making a doctor's appointment or changing your living situation.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my homestay family, and found them to be welcoming and caring without being overbearing. That being said, not everyone on my program had the same experience. However, those who did have problems were able to move with relative ease and the support of the program faculty.

* Food:

Moroccan food is great, just be prepared for bread and sugary foods in excess. There's a lot of fresh fruit, but vegetables were almost always cooked. Few places in Morocco serve pork products, but there are plenty of chicken, beef, or seafood dishes.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt integrated with the local culture by virtue of living with a Moroccan family in the old medina. Of course, it's what you make of it -- its easy to stay in your bubble of American friends, but there are plenty of opportunities to develop friendships with Moroccans, especially if you have homestay siblings who are close to you in age.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program coordinators are good about making appointments with English-speaking doctors if you tell them you need one, but when I went to the doctor (for a sinus infection), I had some trouble communicating with the secretary, who didn't speak English. Moreover, you will be waiting for 2-3 hours (not that different than America....) for your appointment. I was able to take the prescriptions my doctor gave me to a pharmacy and have them filled with relative ease.

* Safety:

The city on the whole is safe, but street harassment is very much a problem, particularly for women and people on the LGBTQ spectrum. Racism is also present in Morocco, especially in cities like Fes. It's important to be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are alone or out at night. Know that there are people around who will help you if you need it. Additionally, something like 17 people a week die in traffic-related accidents in Morocco. Be careful when crossing the street (you don't have right-of-way) and of whose car you get in to.

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)

Morocco is an incredibly accessible country for those on a student's budget. The current exchange rate is around 10 Dh = 1 USD, and prices follow accordingly. For example, a train ticket to Tangier (a 4.5 hour ride) is around 150 Dh. While flights to Morocco are expensive, once you're there, the country is very cheap.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 50-100 Dh
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? When you travel, look for riads to stay in before looking for airbnbs or hotels. "Western" establishments that cater to tourists will likely have higher prices. This especially applies to places that serve alcohol -- you will find that a drink in Morocco is close to the same price as it is in the US, despite most everything being significantly cheaper.

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 were encourage to use our Arabic skills both in our language classes, where we would take weekly field trips to cafes or squares to talk to Moroccans about a certain topic, and in our thematic courses, where we had weekly fieldwork exercises.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Three semesters of Arabic
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Speak Arabic as much as you can, even if you are speaking in fus'ha and getting responses in darija.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Excursions
  • ISP
* What could be improved?
  • Length of ISP
  • Length of northern excursion
  • Some guest lecturers were sub-par
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you've been learning fus'ha, it will be of little use to to you for communicating. If you speak French, you will be able to get around with ease.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.