So good I went back for seconds! March 11, 2016

By (Medical Biology (pre-med), University of New England) - abroad from 01/08/2014 to 05/13/2016 with

University of New England: Tangier - Semester and Summer Study Abroad in Morocco

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned more than I can put into words. I learned how to understand without speaking, to understand the deeper meaning and to understand from a different perspective. Learning was something that happened both inside and outside of the classroom. I gained so much by being surrounded by a culture so different from my own, and I can honestly say that i am a completely different person because of it.

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.

I took both science and liberal arts courses. The courses were set up like those at UNE in the states, which made it easy to transition to having a few Moroccan professors! We learned through lab work, hands on projects, experiments, and by finding cultural connections that strengthened what we were learning in the classroom. The professors were understanding that the transition may be hard for some students and took the time to review work one on one if needed.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program is incredible! We had 4 day weeks, that included our labs and lectures and gave us plenty of time during the day to study or take breaks. The schedule is organized to include excursions to other cities in Morocco throughout the semester, and we even got to go visit our sister school in Seville, Spain. Everything lines up with the academic calendar in the States, so we had the opportunity to travel on spring break. We were given Moroccan cell phones for safety and were introduced to the city and culture during orientation week which set the foundation for the rest of the semester.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The rooms are beautiful- they have a slider to a small balcony that overlooks the city, wardrobes for you clothes, night stands and desks. The rooms are doubles but they are large and have plenty of room for your belongings. Oh and every room has it's own bathroom and shower :)

* Food:

The food is SO GOOD. The cafeteria offers both Moroccan food and American food, and takes requests! They make sure to provide for any dietary needs, which is easy as they shop for fresh food at the local market multiple times a week. The traditional food there consists of meats, fish and vegetables cooked with a selection of spices- very Mediterranean. I was worried at first, as I can be a picky eater- but now I wish I had Moroccan food all the time.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We were worried that living in a residence hall would take away from the cultural experience, but we were wrong. I made so many friends and connections with the locals which not only helped my understand their culture, but it taught me a lot about myself. I still talk to my Moroccan friends all the time, and know that the friendships I made are lasting!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Before I left for the semester, I went to a travel doctor to get a few vaccinations. I got a typhoid fever vaccination, and made sure I was up to date with Hep A and B and my flu shot. My travel doctor also prescribed me a medication incase the water bothered me too much. I personally have struggled with medical issues and was worried about my access to adequate health care. While I was there my second semester, I did get pretty sick. I went to the local hospital that was approved by our university and was under our travel insurance that UNE provides. The language barrier was a little bit of an obstacle and i wasn't sure of the medications they were prescribing me. However, someone on campus came to translate, helped me go to the pharmacy to get medications and understand how/when to take them, and made sure to check in with me throughout the week. The health care is definitely adequate, medications are easily accessible, and the nurses and doctors are very hospitable- it's definitely an interesting experience to not be in the comfort of your own doctors office.

* Safety:

Morocco is safe. Tangier is safe. I never felt scared or unsafe while in Morocco. The biggest thing is the cultural difference that may make students feel uncomfortable. Moroccan are the friendliest people I've met, and I think that was something that was hard to get used to. When walking down the street, many people will try to talk to you and ask your name or compliment you- and thats just because they are interested. I obviously stood out as a foreigner and everyone wants to get to know a foreigner, right? The only word of advice I have is to not walk the streets at night, especially alone.. but I wouldn't do that in Boston either.

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

I did! I went back for a second semester in the Spring of 2015. UNE really makes everyone feel comfortable and I was excited to rekindle the friendships I had made.

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)

I probably spent less money than I do during a typical semester in the States. The only extra money I spent was on traveling internationally (which was super cheap!) or on souvenirs (which are also inexpensive in Morocco)!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe $20-25 depending on if I went out to restaurants or not!
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Use as much work study up as you can during the semester you are at home! Work study money is federal money that is promised to you, but you can't work abroad. Tell you family and friends about your trip, don't set up a "gofundme" account. The people who care about you will help if they have the means to; if not, being a broke college student is half the experience (and it really teaches you to manage your money).

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

I didn't take the Arabic course, so I didn't feel a huge pressure to use the language. However, my Moroccan friends would teach me and encourage me to speak Darija. In the cafeteria, we would always try to speak with the chefs and servers and use the language as much as we could. Also, every time I took a taxi I tried to speak either Arabic, French or Spanish!

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? I can understand some conversation but picking up on words in context, and I also improved my ability to understand Spanish. I can also read basic 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? Don't be afraid to try to pronounce the words and mess up, everyone does! Keep repeating words, and keep a notepad to write down new words you learn when you're out and about!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • the group excursions
  • the friendships I made
  • how easy it was to travel to other countries
* What could be improved?
  • Students from other universities and Moroccan students would be cool!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how hard it would be to leave after a semester! Reverse culture shock on the way home hits harder than the culture shock while abroad.

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.