Meet Pirates in Morocco!
Eliza is a junior studying Urban and Regional Planning. Through the SIT Study Abroad program, she has had the opportunity to travel, study, and volunteer in Morocco this summer.
What have you gained from deciding to study abroad?
I definitely feel like I have gained a greater in myself and my decisions since studying abroad. This was one of the toughest decisions for me to make for numerous reasons: financial, mental, and emotional. But by coming to Morocco, and living in the culture, I definitely learned to just go with my gut and if I really want to make it happen I can.
Has your decision to study abroad fit into your graduation plan?
In the grand scheme of things, yes. Because ECU does not currently offer Arabic classes, I did have to get permission for these credits to count but once I return to the States I plan on finding a university to finish up an Arabic minor. Another reason why this fits into my plan is because I intend to get my Masters in International Development with a focus on Northern Africa and the Middle East.
How has this experience impacted you personally?
This experience has made me appreciate all of the opportunities that I have because I attend ECU. It also has made me appreciate the small things like late night gelatos trips after breaking the fast (as I am studying abroad during Ramadan) and walking along the beach after class.
What is something you did not expect about Morocco?
I did expect how modern is was going to be. Everyone here has smartphones and Facebooks and wants to dress as Western as possible. However, during my excursions to various small villages in Morocco I was able to witness a more rural side of Moroccan Life… but they still had Facebooks lol.
How is life in Rabat/Morocco different from life in Greenville?
Life was different because although Rabat is a city, it is still deeply rooted in tradition. Living in the old medina, I was able to witness firsthand how an entire street will be completely empty because people are at home as opposed to working during Ramadan. Life was also different as Morocco is a patriarchal society, more evidently than the States, and as a pretty outspoken girl with an afro there were times where I did not agree with everything happening around me. However, I just had to remember that it was all a part of a cultural learning experience.
What has been the most exciting experience about studying abroad so far?
Well is hasn’t happened yet, but this weekend I am going to the Sahara Desert and sleeping in a tent and riding a camel!
Do you have any advice for future study abroad students?
PLAN AHEAD. Studying abroad is a journey before you even purchase a plan ticket. Do your research, search for the right program for you, and apply for scholarships. I was able to study abroad completely for free, flight, tuition, and passport paid for, all because I did my research and utilized the resources available at the International House
Have you tried anything fun and different?
Mainly the food! I am loving all the various meals I am having during Ramadan!
What has been the greatest challenge you have faced so far?
For me the greatest challenge was the language barrier in my homestay. It became a personal mission to be able to communicate with my host family as they speak little English and the Moroccan dialect of Arabic (Darija) which I am not learning in class.
What do you like about being a US college student in another country?
I like that people are often fascinated to know about the United States and about the different cities that we all came from.
What is it like living with a host family? Would you recommend it to future students?
It was great! It was almost like being back at home with my parents as my host mother insisted upon treating me like one of her own children. I would definitely recommend that everyone who has the opportunity to stay in a homestay to try it out as it was a great way to learn about the culture firsthand.