Ask me where I've been: Morocco
||Anthropology and Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Studies (dual major)
||Hosting tea parties, reading novels, dancing, farming, smashing the patriarchy
||Kingston, New York
||SIT: Multiculturalism and Human Rights in the Context of the Arab Spring/ Rabat, Morocco
Why study abroad?
For me, opportunities for language learning and living with a host family were pulls. But I think that every student is compelled to go abroad (or to stay on campus) by slightly different reasons, and the important thing is to let your motivations in going abroad shape your choice of program and location!
Why did you choose Morocco?
As a MENA Studies major, it was important to me to spend time in the region and practice my Arabic. I was drawn to Morocco specifically by the opportunity to better understand its “post-colonial” context, and my eagerness to spend time in a country with such a rich history that is often ignored within Western narratives. I mean, the oldest university in the world
was founded by a woman
in Fes. Just saying.
What courses did you enroll in while abroad?
For my program, the courses were set and structured around the theme, in this case “Multiculturalism and Human Rights.” I also took Arabic, and had a one-month period to work on an independent study project.
What was your living situation?
I lived with a wonderful host family in the Old Medina of Rabat.
What did you do for fun?
My 16-year-old host sister Nouhaila loved to wander the city with her best friend Najwa, and I spent many an afternoon or evening arm-in-arm with those girls as they ran about Rabat. These adventures often involved stopping by someone’s house for tea, failing to successfully complete errands, and laughing about my general confusion and minimal Moroccan Arabic.
Highlights of the program:
Spending time with my host sisters, learning my way around Rabat.
The most challenging aspects of your experience:
There were certainly many ups and downs! Many of the initial difficulties such as communication and navigation became easier with time. However, I am still grappling with some of the larger more abstract challenges, such as what the role of a White American student should look like in a Moroccan context, how to make sure that study abroad programs provide sufficient support for all of their students, and how to best disrupt narratives that portray the MENA region as having a monolithically oppressive and violent “culture.”
Final comments or suggestions for future participants:
Before making a choice, spend time thinking critically about not only how study abroad might affect you, but how your presence might influence your host community. Once you arrive, focus on finding a comfortable routine, a solid support network, and the little things that bring you joy so that you feel at home in your new place! But don’t shy away from the difficult questions.