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Study Abroad in Morocco

The French Crutch

There’s a downside to being in a multilingual country and knowing one of them (aside from the one that is being learned). While it’s easy for me to speak in French rather than Arabic, I must avoid French like the plague. By speaking French with my first host family, I harmed my Arabic speaking skills; to learn a language it is necessary to use it at every opportunity. Despite the fact that I knew how to best learn to speak a new language, I let my nervousness with Arabic overcome […]

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“Yeah, Africa! Camel dance!”

In the beginning of October I was able to travel to the Sahara! Since my arrival, I had wondered when this excursion would happen and I when I learned it would be so soon, I was ecstatic. I was ready for camels, sand and sun; I got all three of the things I wanted, of course. My first camel friend was the cutest, though a little stubborn to pick up the pace. I named him Aziz! We all rode camels for two hours on Saturday (October 4) until we reached […]

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Eid Al-Adha

I feel very obligated to write about the Islamic holiday that has just passed. As I mentioned in a previous post, all I really knew about this Eid was that a sheep would be sacrificed, something that sounded vaguely Satanic and caused nervous laughter whenever it was mentioned. Having participated in Eid with my family I have a very different perspective, even without the religious significance that it has for my host family. Wednesday after class I returned to see our sheep in the outdoor garage. Now I had pictured […]

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Chefchaouen

This past weekend seeing as it was not one, but TWO friends’ birthdays, we decided to spend the time in Chefchaouen. When you type Chefchaouen into Pinterest or Google you will immediately be presented with thousands of the same five pictures of a surreal blue city. One (read: me) might assume that these were filtered, that the only five beautiful spots are these, but in fact the entire Medina of the city is idyllic, and I don’t use that word lightly. After a four hour drive up and around mountains […]

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Wonderful Arrival in Morocco

Today was my second day here in Fes and there is so much that I could say. In short, I can already tell that I’ll love almost every minute of my time here. Despite some very bad luck I’ve had, it is impossible for me to stay mad about it thanks to the happiness I feel having the opportunity to be here. The group of us traveled to the Medina, the old city, where Moroccan tradition flourishes. I had read about the medina through many sources, of course nothing beats […]

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Stings and Caresses of Culture Shock

I have been in Morocco for two weeks and now have gotten a good idea of some cultural differences. In regards to my studies, all classes are in full swing and I have already learned many things from my teachers and classmates. One great difference between Morocco and the US is that just about all foods are organic and freshly made; Moroccans value food that tastes wonderful but does not bring the body a lot of harm. I appreciate this type of mentality and hope that one day the US […]

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T3m and Homesickness

We all knew this had to happen. The following post will be entirely dedicated to all things food. I’ve mentioned meal times particulars, but now that I’ve been here for a week I can see food particulars for each meal as well. For example, my family has taught me that mint tea is best when made at home, and only had with lunch or dinner, while coffee (generally nus nus, or half milk half coffee) is had with breakfast. While we use bread as a utensil during most meals, you cannot […]

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C’est le geste qui conte

Yesterday night we met out host families for the first time. After a slightly awkward mumbled greeting and a very silent car ride with my parents, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours getting to know my host mother (who very strictly enforces me calling her Mama Neijia). Honestly I was terrified and overwhelmed, but after a shockingly successful conversation and slideshow of a million family pictures, I felt much more comfortable in the home. Since that point my comfort level has definitely fluctuated as I learn to […]

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Madina and Getting More than a Little Lost

This morning we were all up bright and early for a tour of the old medina, the best preserved medieval city in the world. Essentially Fez is split into two halves: La Ville Nouvelle and the Madina. The Madina is a souk all the time; people are always selling goods, and the houses are built into the walls all around the city. It is the easiest thing to get lost in there, so I’m glad we had a guide, even just for a few hours. There are two types of […]

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Preconceptions and Landing

As you can definitely tell from the title of this post, I’ve finally finished the long day of traveling and am finally in Fez, Morocco. While I’m already here, and have walked around the area quite a bit, I did want to write something about what I thought of Morocco/Moroccans prior to studying here. Reflection is important, but only if you already have something to compare your experience too. When you say you’re studying in Morocco people generally give one of three responses: I hear Morocco is beautiful, you’re so […]

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See you later, Morocco!

My semester has come full-circle, now, almost, as I sit in the Atlanta airport, waiting for my flight back to Iowa. This morning, I started my 22-hour travel day in Rabat, and I have about 5 hours left. I held it together through all the good-byes with my friends, but as we took off, actually left Rabat, the tears came. I cried when I left the U.S., and I cried when I left Morocco. If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you know a lot of my stories and […]

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Seeing as Much as I Can

It’s already Thursday of my last week in Morocco. I’m not really sure when the time went, but I wanted to get in a few last stories of my experiences before wrapping up the semester, packing for home, and transitioning back to life in America. I’ve had some fantastic trips within the past few weeks that I want to share with you. Tangier: The International City Two weekends ago, my friend, her friend who is studying in Spain, and I took on Tangier. This was the last city on my […]

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A New Set of Challenges and Victories

On Sunday, April 12, I moved into an apartment with 6 other women in my program and began my independent study project (ISP). This project is the culmination of the entire semester.  Every field work assignment, every Arabic class, every excursion, every challenge was mere preparation for these 3 weeks. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but that is truly how it feels. Without all the challenges and experiences we’ve had all semester, I don’t think we would have been able to take on this research project. Imagine. You’re in a country […]

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أمي

This semester has been full of moments in which I realize more about the things I value and the things I want from life. Last night, I had one of those moments, and it was so important to me that I felt I needed to share it with you. I learned that my host mom’s mother is dying. I never knew this woman, but I cried last night and am still tearing up this morning because I was reminded of how the love between mother and child is universal and […]

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Reflections on the North–Chefchaouen, Ceuta, and Fes

For my last few weekends before beginning my research time, I’ve been fortunate enough to explore the northern regions of Morocco. Our program visited Chefchaouen and the Spanish enclave, Ceuta, and my friends and I spent a weekend in Fes. Both held memorable experiences for me. The Blue City: Chefchaouen As I was gearing up to head to Morocco, I was looking through Pinterest (yes, Pinterest. It’s a great resource for tips and tricks, recipes, diy, party planning—I’ll be honest, I love Pinterest) for things related to Morocco—advice for what […]

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