Category Archives: Photography

“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

Photo Journey Through a Fall in Morocco

Kristin Licciardell’s time away from Rutgers University on the Morocco Area & Arabic Language Studies fall 2014 program was well documented through the lens of her camera. Here are her favorite moments from four months abroad.

Kristin Licciardello

Jumping Off the Edge

Jumping off the Edge:

Taken along the river separating the city of Rabat from neighboring Sale, this location is a hot spot for locals and travellers alike. The river is lined with cafes, a small amusement park for children, and small boats that take people from one side to another. On a casual afternoon walk, I spotted a group of young boys jumping off the sidewalk edge. I tried to sneak a shot without them noticing, but they quickly recognized the foreigner with a camera and began doing stylish jumps and flips to show off. I have noticed that cliff jumping is a popular activity for young boys throughout many Moroccan beach towns. A Moroccan friend of mine in El Jadida (one of the best places to jump, because of the old Portuguese fort walls) pointed out to me that there are often separate levels of jumping— the higher the jumper, the higher the level. The older boys like to jump from the highest levels, while the younger boys jump off lower levels.

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Filed under Adventure, Beauty, Education Abroad, Morocco, Photography

Unexpected Surprises – Summer Intensive Arabic Program in Oman

In our Summer 2014 Intensive Arabic Program, scholarship winner, Taylor Mosely, had an amazing experience.  Taylor, a student from Vassar University, found that she not only improved her Arabic language skills significantly, but also learned a great deal about the region and Omani culture in general.  She outlines the highlights of her experience on our program in her end of semester essay.  All photo credit goes to Taylor Mosely.

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Before I made my journey to Muscat, Oman in the summer of 2014, I sat down and contemplated the reasons why I wanted to study Arabic. I came to the conclusion that my home institution, Vassar College, has indeed opened my mind and given me the tools to constructively think about the society I live in. I believed, however, that there was so much more for me to learn that could not be taught on campus. I realized that as an International Studies major, it was imperative that I study abroad. I was highly interested in learning the Arabic language outside of the United States because it would expose me to a whole new world. I was also excited to get an intimate view of culture outside of my own. For me, the possibility of studying Arabic in a foreign country was energizing because I deeply wanted to become familiar with the Middle Eastern region on a personal level. All things considered, I thought that studying abroad would expand my personal horizons, strengthen my language skills and deepen my understanding of the Arab history and culture.

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Filed under Adventure, Arabic, Oman, Photography

The Perfect Portrait of Ancient Meeting Modern – Jordan in Photos

Lawrence Sinkewich, a student from the University of Cincinnati, studied with AMIDEAST/Jordan during the Summer of 2014.  This photo blog highlights some of Jordan’s most beautiful sites.

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Photo #1: Roman Citadel ruins in downtown Amman.

The first few days in a new country can be quite overwhelming with all of the surrounding amazement and unfamiliarity. A new culture, lifestyle, and friends all at once are what awaited me upon arrival in Jordan. After the first day of class, Amideast took all of us on an excellent tour of Amman, the capitol city of Jordan. At the very heart of the city stands a testament to humanity’s past: a temple to Hercules and a citadel built by the Roman Empire. Atop the hill, one can see the perfect portrait of ancient meeting modern that is Amman. From the powerful roman amphitheater and Umayyad Mosque to the wide avenues of bustling traffic and trendy shopping malls, Amman features a beautiful display of the many eras in time.

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Jordan in Photos – Intensive Arabic, Summer 2014

Keren Saidac, a student from the University of Wisconsin, studied with AMIDEAST/Jordan during the Summer of 2014.  At the end of her program she took the time to reflect on her experiences through pictures.

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The Little Things

 

Standing on top of the highest peak of Ajloun Castle provides one of the most unbelievable views of Jordan’s many wonders. Just taking a few moments to observe and absorb it is really something magical. 

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Morocco in Photos – Reflections from Summer Intensive Arabic

The following photo essay was contributed by Summer Session 1 2014 participant, Mitch Oeler. A student at Duquesne University, Mitch has just returned from four weeks abroad in Morocco on AMIDEAST Education Abroad’s Intensive Arabic in Rabat program. Below, he reflects on some highlights of his time in Morocco.

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The first weekend in Rabat, a few of my friends and I made the trip down to Casablanca. After a fun Friday night on Avenue de la Corniche, we woke up Saturday and took a walk to see Hassan II Mosque. It was easily one of the largest things I had ever seen! (That little man in the grey shirt is me; needless to say, I felt tiny.) When we tried to go inside for visiting hours, we were turned away because, as it turned out, the King of Serbia was visiting that day!

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Filed under Adventure, Arab Friends, Arabic, Morocco, Photography

Reflection on Jordan Fall 2013 in Photos

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

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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.

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Filed under Arabic, Jordan, Photography