Category Archives: French

Connection to the Global Community in Morocco

This entry features a submission by former AMIDEAST Education Abroad student, Everest Robinson. Everest participated in the AMIDEAST Morocco Regional Studies in French program during the Fall 2015 term. From Macalester College in Minnesota, Everest is a student of Psychology and Religious Studies. We hope you enjoy his reflection on his experience in Morocco!

It’s very hard to sum up four months of my life in Morocco, to extract a single lesson or even a single story. There are so many stories so many ways that my life has been altered by Morocco.

The place I would start with to describe my time in Morocco is not a location or an experience, but the people, for people always make a place. The people of Morocco have taught me so much. As a tourist, I sometimes found myself in situations where it would’ve been very easy to take advantage of me. However, this rarely happened. By and large, Moroccan people were not only helpful but they went above and beyond just extending courtesy and aid; they treated me as a family member and showed genuine interest and investment in my well-being. In a similar vein, I noticed community solidarity every day whether it was four people jumping at the chance to help a mother get her stroller on the bus or a stranger watching someone’s kids as the parents went into a shop. I will never forget this community solidarity which has become a part of my identity, and I will never forget that many times I was vulnerable in an unfamiliar place where if not for the assistance of strangers I could’ve encountered trouble.

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Buying a rug from villagers on the Zawiya Ahansal excursion.

Overall, I found my experience abroad to be simultaneously challenging and illuminating. During my time abroad, I was forced to use muscles that I had rarely used before. I confronted myself just as much I confronted the socio-cultural obstacles. In general, I tend to be more of a follower/people-pleaser. I rarely drive the plans or the conversation within a social group. When I stay at someone’s house I try to be invisible and rarely express my needs. While I was abroad, I learned very quickly that they are times when it is necessary to advocate for yourself and be assertive. I could’ve let the semester move along with my various discomforts and had regrets at the end, but instead I learned to confront people with my desires and I even made a trip by myself to Chefchaouen when no one wanted to go the particular weekend I had available. There were so many experiences that became available with me at the small price of asserting myself. Because of this perspective-shift I was able to leave Morocco with zero regrets and with an increased ability to assert myself which is quite a useful skill to have in adulthood.

Another hugely important thing I take with me back to the states is an increased awareness of the global community. By going to Morocco I was exposed to viewpoints that simply aren’t available in the United States in my upper-class liberal arts bubble. I learned far more about Islam than I could’ve learned in any textbook or web search. Greater than the French I learned was the shockingly simple revelation that other people use all sorts of languages all around the world and that this language in turn influences their perceptions. Furthermore, many things cannot be translated into words. I learned a great deal about wealth disparity from living with a middle class Moroccan family and teaching English to refugees from many Sub-Saharan nations. Finally, I learned that there are so many different ways to live life on planet earth in community and that although I may be more comfortable living one way, that does not mean that the others are less correct on a universal level. After being abroad, I feel a greater connection to the global community.

I can’t put a price or any sort of measure on what my semester abroad has meant to me. It is invaluable. It is part of me. It has shaped me irreversibly. I strongly believe this opportunity should exist for every person on this wonderful planet, and I’m immensely grateful to have had this opportunity.

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Filed under 2015, Adventure, French, Morocco

A La Plage

Katherine Seaton, a senior at American University, is studying with AMIDEAST in Rabat, Morocco for her  fall 2011 semester. In this post, she recounts her relaxing weekend prior to the start of classes as well as some cultural differences she has noticed. This was originally published on her blog on September 12, 2011.

This past weekend I went to the beach on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we met up with our group and went to a beach about 30 minutes outside of Rabat. Getting there was quite the experience because we all took our first bus ride. The bus is a completely different experience here than it is anywhere else in the United States. First of all, there are no schedules. You just wait for the right bus and hope it will come soon. When the right bus showed up we all shuffled to the back door and got on. In Morocco people enter through the back door and exit through the front door. Once we got on the bus a man walked down the aisle and took our money (3,60 MAD = 50 cents) and gave us a small green ticket. There are no designated bus stops so the bus would stop whenever someone flagged it down. When I say “stopped” I mean the bus slowed down and opened its doors so that the person running alongside the street could hop on.

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Filed under Adventure, Arabic, French, Host Family, Morocco

The First Week

Caitlin Trotter, a junior at the University of Alabama and Boren Scholar, is currently studying with AMIDEAST in Rabat, Morocco for the academic year. This post recounts her first week in the city, some cultural adjustments she’s experienced, and her hopes for the upcoming 9 months.  It was originally posted on September 12, 2011.

What a week. Eight days ago I was anticipating everything that I would experience in the last seven days. Now I feel like that was years ago. I can’t believe I’ve only been in Rabat for six days. I feel like I’ve known most of my 24 classmates here for months. I feel like I’m living a completely different life now than I was a week ago. I’ve always thought it was so cliche when people say this, but studying abroad really is going to be a defining aspect of this stage of my life. It’s really hard to put into words how I’ve felt since Saturday night when I arrived in Rabat, but this is my attempt.

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Filed under Adventure, Arabic, Food, French, Host Family, Morocco