Category Archives: Host Family

“How is Morocco different from the US?” by Sofia Deak

As my first month in Morocco comes to an end, I am starting to be accustomed to life here. I feel more comfortable with the food, am able to have an entire conversation in Darija with my host mom (albeit with many mistakes, I am sure!), and easily know my way around Rabat. As I talk to my friends and family from home, I am constantly posed with the question of “How is Morocco different from the US?”

Initially, I brushed this question off as way too broad to even begin to tackle. “In many ways they are the same!” I usually reply. Mothers walk their kids to school, taxi drivers honk in the streets, couples stroll together by the beach. I am very accustomed to looking for ways in which I am the same as other people; it is in my nature and part of my personal philosophy to focus on shared values and traits rather than the things that divide people.

However, as I have thought more about this question, the more I have come to realize that it needs to be answered. Many friends and family members expressed their shock and worry when I told them I was planning to study abroad in Morocco — a response that baffled me, as all I felt was excitement and some nerves. A cousin asked me if I would be forced to wear a veil while in Rabat, and my doctor asked me why I was not studying in a “safer” and “more Western” country. These questions, I have realized, come from the lack of an answer to that greater, vaguer, question of how Morocco and the United States differ. Even highly educated Americans might be confused about life in a Muslim-majority country and what that life might look like for a twenty-year-old American college student with a Christian upbringing.

So, with only a few weeks experience to draw on, here are a few special moments that strike me as distinctly Moroccan:

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Each Friday, my host family gathers with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents for a couscous feast, chatting for hours before the meal without the distractions of cell phones or television. This is pretty foreign to me, because my family is spread out all over the US and only gathers like this for major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. I was amazed and touched by the closeness of Moroccan families. My family loves to dance, and oftentimes my host sister Fatima Ezzahra plays music on the TV so she, her cousins, parents, aunts and uncles can all dance and sing together in the living room . . .

One late Sunday night, I arrived at the train station with friends, returning to Rabat from a weekend trip to Essaouira. It was dark out and pouring rain; a woman sitting in our train compartment insisted on driving us home, making sure we got inside safely, and invited us to share a meal with her family. She even gave us her daughter’s phone number so we could meet some Moroccans our own age (Rim is a university student in Rabat, like us) . . .

Upon seeing my friends and I walking around in the rain, a woman rushed out of her shop selling wood crafts and dragged us indoors. She pulled a large plastic tarp from a back room, cut it into five equal pieces, and made a hole in the middle of each — homemade ponchos for us all! She gave us tea, saying we reminded us of her daughter, and sent us on our way . . .

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These are just three examples of the Moroccan values of hospitality, friendship, and family that the people here seem to really exemplify in their day to day life. I feel very lucky to be studying in such a welcoming, friendly country, and want everyone reading my blog to know that these outward acts of kindness are just one of many things that makes Morocco so special!

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Filed under 2017, Arabic, Beauty, Cultural Feature, Education Abroad, Food, Host Family, Introduction, Morocco, Music, Photography, Sofia Deak

Reflecting on Morocco – Fall 2014

A student of Cross-Cultural Justice at American University in Washington, D.C., Lucette Moran recently returned from her Fall 2014 AMIDEAST program in Morocco. Participating on the Area & Arabic Language Studies Program, Lucette shares some of her favorite moments of Morocco.

Mo_1_Lucette Moran

Rabat, Morocco

This picture was taken at sunset during my first few weeks in Rabat. Living in Hay L’Ocean, I was able to stroll along the beach after classes with enough time before dark, and I tried to take advantage of it throughout the warmer weather. The power of the change of tides on the rocky coast of Rabat will be forever seared into my memory, even back on the east coast of the United States, staring back at the endless Atlantic Ocean.

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HOW TO: Live with a Host Family in the Middle East/North Africa

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.

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Filed under Adventure, Arab Friends, Arabic, Host Family, Morocco

Cultural Insight through Moroccan Food

This semester reflection was submitted by Kristina Domaney, a student of Political Science and Psychology at College of the Holy Cross. Prior to direct enrollment her fall 2012 in Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, Kristina participated in a 3-week Pre-Session with AMIDEAST in Rabat. She reminisces about some of her delicious adventures around the country!

M_Fa12_ AUI_ Domaney_2 copy right

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Filed under Arab Friends, Arabic, Food, Host Family, Morocco, Photography

Party Time!

Ryan Anderson, a student at American University in Washington, DC,  is a participant in AMIDEAST’s Area & Arabic Language Studies program in Rabat, Morocco during the Fall 2012 semester. In this post, she describes the mock Moroccan wedding event held by AMIDEAST and reflects on her host family.

So Tuesday was the mock wedding, and our happy couple was elected to be Tom and Elena. It really could not have been a better pairing- both of them not only look good in pictures, but they both have a great sense of humor and chemistry that made the wedding go off with really high spirits. Which was just what everyone needed, since a lot of us had been having bad days. (Namely, me and Jessa. The Wedding cheered us right up!)

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Filed under Adventure, Arab Friends, Arabic, Food, Host Family, Morocco

Reflections on Egypt Learn & Serve and Jordan Intensive Arabic

Alecia Hlebechuk, a student in Art and Design and Middle East Studies at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, participated in two AMIDEAST programs in the summer of 2012. During the first half of the summer, she took colloquial Egyptian Arabic and held a local internship in AMIDEAST’s Learn & Serve program in Cairo, Egypt. Following this experience, she traveled to Amman, Jordan to complete one 4-week session with AMIDEAST’s Intensive Arabic program. Below is Alecia’s submission of a photo essay on her adventures and observations.

 

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Filed under Adventure, Arabic, Egypt, Host Family, Jordan, Photography

Intensive Arabic in the Hashemite Kingdom

Fatuma Atik, a student in Applied Linguistics and Arabic at Georgia State University, participated in session 1 of the AMIDEAST Intensive Arabic program in Amman, Jordan this summer. Below, enjoy her pictures of her favorites places in the Hashemite Kingdom.

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Filed under Adventure, Arabic, Host Family, Jordan, Photography