Below is an entry submitted by a participant on AMIDEAST’s first Intensive Arabic Program in Muscat, Oman. A student at Loyola University Chicago focusing on International Studies and Arabic Language and Culture, Sam Nelson-Mann reflects on his summer spent in the Sultanate in 2014.
I hate to be overly-predictable, but the first thing I noticed upon leaving the airport in Muscat, Oman was the heat. It can be… oppressive. I stepped outside to a crowd of Bengalis, Indians, Omanis, Indonesians – a truly global mixture, and a good indicator of what I would experience throughout my month-long stay in the Gulf country. I came to study Arabic for four weeks, and that I accomplished. However, what surprised me the most about my time there was what I learned about the greater plurality of the Arab world as a whole.
I had spent time in a host of other Arab/Middle Eastern countries in the past, but had never before visited the Gulf. What I discovered, contrary to the politically-volatile situations in Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt and Algeria, was a peaceful, stable, and relatively happy country, ruled over by a seemingly benevolent leader and enjoying a period of unprecedented economic prosperity and growth. This was troubling at first, because I had grown accustomed to studying the political economies of the countries I was visiting, and in the face of almost complete lack of strife, I felt almost as if there was nothing to be learned. After all, I had chosen Oman over Amman because I knew almost nothing about it – Oman tends not to come up in discussions about international affairs, even when discussing the Gulf.
The following photo essay was contributed by Spring 2014 participant Sidney Tolo. A student at Northeastern University, Sidney has just returned from a semester abroad in Morocco on AMIDEAST Education Abroad’s Arabic and Area Studies program. Below, she reflects on some highlights of her time in Morocco.
One of our first AMIDEAST trips was to a local artisan association, where we saw everything from pottery and basket weaving to woodcarving and this tile work. All over Morocco there are grand archways and beautifully tiled communal washbasins, so casually integrated into the community. Seeing things like this every day really made me appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into the things around us. Artisans like this have been around for centuries and I love that in Morocco, people still support local artists.
The following post was submitted by Fall 2013 participant Marjahn Goodman. A student at University of Mary Washington, Marjahn spent her fall semester on AMIDEAST Education Abroad’s Area & Arabic Language Studies Program in Amman, Jordan. Here, she reflects on her semester in Jordan via pictures taken while abroad.
Finding Peace Abroad
Being abroad is an unbelievable experience and adjusting can take time. Every week I would try to explore Jordan to learn from the historical sites and the local people. One of the most amazing places in Amman is the Roman Amphitheater located downtown, the heart of the city. Visiting the sight is amazing because you are surrounded by the Jordanian culture reserved in downtown Amman. It is a great place to sit to write, relax, meet new people and explore.
The following post was submitted by Fall 2013 participant Madinatou Diallo. A student of International Relations at Mount Holyoke College, Madinatou spent her fall semester on AMIDEAST Education Abroad’s Area & Arabic Language Studies Program in Rabat, Morocco. In her submission, she reflects on her semester in Morocco.
When I think about the four months I spent in Rabat, happy memories flood through my head– lunch with friends in Agdal, spending too many hours in the Medina, breakfast with my roommate and host dad, kissing my host mom whenever I returned home, drinking tea with my family while the TV went on unnoticed– which makes me want to do it all over again. But in the back of my mind, I know that it is impossible to recreate the wonderful moments I had in Morocco. For one, it is highly unlikely that the friends I made from all over the United States will all be there again for four months.
Julie Fisher, a student at American University in the class of 2014, studied abroad with AMIDEAST in Rabat, Morocco during the Spring 2013 semester. As an intern for AMIDEAST Education Abroad during the Fall 2013 semester, Julie has put together a “How To” to live with a host family in order to calm any apprehension about moving in to a new family while studying abroad.
Across the board, when I ask people to identify their favorite part of studying abroad, the homestay experience almost always comes out on top. Sure, it can be daunting at first- who wouldn’t be at least a little bit nervous at the thought of living in a complete stranger’s home for several months? However, most people soon find that these “strangers” quickly turn into a second family.
Below is a photo essay submitted by summer 2013 Intensive Arabic in Rabat, Morocco participant Rockia Coulibaly. A student of International Relations and Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College, Rockia reflects on some of her favorite experiences in Rabat this summer.
On one of my very last days in Morocco, my host family thought it would be a great idea for my roommate and me to try on some of the traditional Moroccan clothing. We tried on both takchitas and caftons. The one I am wearing in this photo is called a takchita, and these dresses are normally worn during weddings and baby showers. The takchita in this photo was actually the takchita that my host sister wore for her wedding. The takchita comes with a belt or mdamma as said in the Moroccan dialect, Darija. The dress is also worn with beautiful jewelry which matches the color and style of the dress. In addition, women also get henna done on their hands and feet for these special occasions.
This post was submitted by Laura Kauer, a student at American University in Washington, DC and a participant in AMIDEAST’s spring 2013 Area & Arabic Language Studies Program in Rabat, Morocco. In addition to reflecting on her semester abroad, Laura uses photography to describe her most memorable aspects of Morocco.
Once of the first trips I took outside of Rabat was to the sleepy beach town of Asilah. During the summer it is the chosen spot for European tourists and artists; but in the winter, it was a completely different experience as we walked through the half empty medina. We walked through its blue and white streets marveling at the infinite shades of blue and green of the doors and windows. Later in the night, I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets on the beach and saw the water slowly take on all the hues of blue and green that I had seen that day in Asilah’s streets.
Filed under Arabic, Morocco