Ahlan- Hello and welcome to my travel blog, a documentation of this year’s globetrotting! The dwindling number of days before I ship off to al magrib has prompted me to savor Maine any way I can: fishing, jogging on the beach, biking around town and munching on corn on the cob with friends and family. I still cannot quite believe that my study abroad dreams have come into fruition. Last year at this time, as a sophomore at Tufts, I was struggling to choose a major and match my choice with a fitting study abroad semester. A few months and several scholarship and program applications later, and I am preparing to apply my Arabic and Community Health majors to a year of global immersion in four countries: 3.5 months studying in Fes, Morocco through University of Minnesota’s partnership with the Arabic Language Institute in Fez (ALIF), and 4 months studying public health through 5-week homestays in India, Argentina and South Africa with the International Honors Program. None of this would be possible without Fund for Education Abroad’s generous financial support.
Why Fes? My checklist for an Arabic abroad program was simple: immersion, homestays, small class size. Programs in Egypt and Syria were cancelled of course, leaving Fes, Morocco as my destination of choice— a spiritual city famed for its fusion of cultures and preservation of authentic Medieval Islamic life. I am thrilled to use my French and Arabic to navigate Fes’ enchanting souks and soak up the history and complexity of society.
Expectations: I am looking forward to self-directed learning at ALIF, through classes of equal intensity to those at Tufts. I am a bit apprehensive about the heavy course load: twenty hours per week of Arabic plus 3 electives: Gender, Modernization and Social Change in Morocco; Narrating the Nation: Literature and Postcolonial Identity in Morocco; and Moroccan Society and Culture. I’m equally apprehensive about the schedule I’ll need to embrace—classes starting at 8am and dinner with my host family potentially around midnight. The language barrier with my host family will be another challenge and will strongly contrast my summer in the French Alps living with a French family…also fluent in English. In Morocco, there are no guarantees my host family will understand a word I say. The dynamic will certainly be different, but I’m ready and willing to open the lines of communication as much as I can!
I have every expectation that this adventure will be life-changing, eye-opening, perspective-altering…whatever you want to call it. I am determined to keep an open mind and embrace the challenges and surprises that will surely arise. The next time I write, inshallah, will be from Fes!