The winding streets of Fez, the bazaars in Marrakesh, skiing in the North Atlas mountains, the beautiful minarets in small towns and large, and the melancholic streets of Casablanca – all can be explored in Morocco. In addition to great travel opportunities, Morocco is a rapidly changing country in Northern Africa in which students can explore the consequences of European policies and the politics of the Middle East and Arab world in the same place. Opportunities for Arabic and French study are ample, as well as some opportunities to speak Spanish and Berber in some local communities!
Morocco is a pretty large country and you have many options within its borders for your study abroad program. If you're attracted to more natural landscapes and immersion experiences, it may be best to avoid the city streets of Meknes. On the contrary, if immersion sounds frightening, maybe Marakesh or a bigger city will be more enticing!
Rabat: The capital city, a wonderful mix of modern and ancient to explore. It is also home to the country’s first modern university, Mohammed V University.
Ifrane: A small town in the Middle Atlas mountains, home to Al Akhawayn University, Morocco’s first private university where all the classes are held in English because the aim is to export trilingual students. Ifrane is within an hour taxi ride to Fez and Meknes and is near skiing, when it snows. Yes, it snows in Africa!
Meknes: Acity in northern Morocco, Meknes is home to Moulay Ismail University, home to over 20,000 students, where there are some classes offered in English for international students. While there, you can go nearby and check out the archaeological site Volubulis, the remains of a Roman city.
Planning Your Trip
As you’re considering between programs and looking at your finances, here are a few more things to consider when picking a Moroccan study abroad program. Morocco has a sharp divide between the upper class and lower class communities (the same percentages as in the United States, just in a much smaller geographic area). Consider opportunities that allow you to interact with people across classes and perhaps engage in service opportunities when you are not in school.
Language: Language instruction may be in French, Arabic, or English (or a combination of the three!). Consider what your language fluency goal is for your study abroad and plan accordingly. Consider learning both basic French and Arabic while studying in Morocco to take advantage of the immersive environment.
Academic Life: Academics can really depend on the university. Check what language classes are available in and how many of those classes are offered each semester. Universities may be a little more paternalistic than American colleges, so check for attendance policies if you’re planning lots of travel.
Housing: When planning your housing see if you can room with a Moroccan student and get to know someone new! Find out if international students are housed separately or whether they can live off campus. Consider what you want your surroundings to be like and consider options that offer more immersion to let you get to know Moroccan culture better!
Immersion and Cultural Activities: Different provider's overall costs may or may not include added cultural activities or small excursions to further extend your learning experience. Some providers operate under the idea that these activities help strengthen the community among students and enhance their understandings of the country. If organized fun is not your thing, be sure to find a program who gives students more independence on their weekends.
Arranged activities can range from a day trips to nearby gardens or museums to weekend overnight trips to neighboring cities or countries. ISA Study Abroad includes multiple excursions in the overall program costs, such as a trip to Casablanca!
Travel and Shopping Tips
- Morocco is a great launching point for your other travels while studying abroad. You can take the ferry across the Straight of Gibraltar, and be in Spain, as well as catch short flights into the other Mediterranean countries, Europe, or the Middle East!
- Need a little taste of the dessert and a camel ride? Head on the train to Marrakesh, the big vacation spot in Morocco. But save your money and buy souvenirs in other cities because the prices in the Marrakesh bazaar are higher!
- Students may enjoy going shopping for a Moroccan rug, but beware the shopkeeper’s bargaining. Try a few shops to get a sense of prices before trying to buy. Also ask about labor practices, and consider buying from small weaving co-ops if possible.
- And lastly don’t leave Morocco without visiting Fez, but beware! The twisty streets of Fez demand a human guide, rather than just on a guidebook. It’s worth going with some friends and paying for a guide together!
Does studying abroad sound fabulous but expensive? While it is true, studying abroad can mean added costs, there are still a variety of ways to offset the extra expenses. If you're not up for opening a lemonade stand, I suggest checking out the following scholarships.
- The Gain Scholarship from CIEE will help offset costs for studying in Morocco.
- Consider applying for the Critical Language Scholarship and focus your studies on gaining fluency in Arabic.
- AMIDEAST sponsors different travel grants and scholarships specifically for students going to North Africa each year.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships
Contributed by Hannah Cartwright
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