Although Morocco was always where I wanted to study abroad, I couldn’t decide between two extremely prominent, strong programs (IES being one of them). I was even finishing my other application when I found IES. However, from its website alone, I could tell that IES was a transparent, direct program that provided students with the aid and information needed to successfully study abroad. This ended up being the deciding factor when I chose IES.
IES Abroad’s direct communication and desire to help students only improved when I arrived in Rabat. Although I expected more pre-departure information regarding class schedules, etc. it became clear once I arrived that some information simply couldn’t be provided until we were there, especially with housing in the medina (Rabat’s old city). Despite this, we were taken care of every step of the way. Each professor was always willing to help us understand different subjects, even if it wasn’t their teaching material, were so great about giving travel tips, and other advice as well. They were so eager to help and really, genuinely cared about our learning experiences. The staff did as well, and our coordinator worked (literally) day and night to make sure we were always doing okay, from having check-in meetings, to homstay inspections, to always responding to our WhatsApp messages, to even just hanging out and talking with us in the center. Our experiences in Morocco were improved a thousand times over because of her hard work, which often went hand in hand with the director’s work. Although he was always really busy, he always found a moment to help us out, even with figuring out travel plans. The faculty and staff at IES Rabat played a huge role in helping us feel comfortable during our time in Morocco.
Beyond school though, Morocco was more beautiful and inviting than I could have imagined. I eventually grew accustomed to the bustle of the medina’s main roads, and felt comforted hearing shop owners calling out their prices as food sizzled on grills in the background. We laughed with taxi drivers, bargained with shop owners, and bantered with the waiters at our regular cafe, who always wished us the best in our time there. I’m still so grateful for the way Morocco welcomed us, and for how its people, and especially my host family, extended their hospitality through food, sarcastic (but loving) jokes, and joy at our immersion in the culture. Each experience was improved so much by the people, and when I think of the times I miss in Morocco, I find that what I miss most is the people that were there, and how they made each memory so much better.
I don’t think I’ll ever know how to fully show my appreciation for my time in Morocco, but I do know that I’ve been home for over a month, and I still think about its beauty every day. I can’t recommend this program, or this country, enough as one of the most rewarding places to study abroad and learn about so many different topics that are rarely discussed in the Western world. I can never thank IES enough, and I know that someday I’ll be back to Morocco for its food, sunsets, and adventure again.