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Merhaba!

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“A Moroccan Summer” by Zakiyya Ellington

“A Moroccan Summer” by Zakiyya Ellington

My time in Morocco was characterized by many things: intensive study, unexpected stories, soccer, food, and more. However, I think the most defining and influential parts of this experience were travel and my language partner.

The first pictures are of my favorite places I traveled to – Merzouga and Chefchaouen – which we did independently as students. Traveling to Merzouga is one of the experiences I’m most proud and lucky to have. It’s a small town on the edge of the Sahara Desert, and as such, we were able to take part in activities only possible in few other places around the world. The first morning, we arrived by overnight bus and spent the day touring various sites of the desert by SUV. We visited and drank tea with a Berber family, visited Khamlia – the village of a Black-African community – and watched them play traditional music, and had Berber pizza for lunch, which can only be found in Merzouga. Later that night, we rode camels through the desert to a base camp, where we spent the night and were even able to sandboard! Photo Credit: Z. Ellington, Summer 2018

The next morning, we woke up early to enjoy an incredible view of the sunrise. After returning to town, two other students and I rode ATVs through the desert, which is one of the coolest activities I’ve ever done. It was both incredibly scary and thrilling to be speeding through, up, and down the dunes, some of which were extremely steep. Additionally, we were on a different side of the desert and were the only people in sight, which gave us amazing views of the expanse of desert and an even more memorable and personalized experience. To top off an amazing weekend, I was able to watch the World Cup final afterwards in a restaurant full of other soccer lovers! Photo Credit: Z. Ellington, 2018

Chefchaouen was the last trip I took along with two other students. The blue city was a beautiful and relaxing finish to a busy summer. The majority of our first day was spent hiking to Akchour, a small town with a large waterfall about a two and a half hour hike each way from the starting point. The path itself was also enjoyable, as there were smaller waterfalls and pools along the way! The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the medina and blue walls that made up the city. Photo Credit: Z. Ellington, 2018

Another way I was able to get to know Morocco was through my language partner. From our first meeting, she was sweet and eager to help me practice both formal and Moroccan Arabic and get to know Morocco. For example, one picture depicts the day of our first meeting, after which she showed me some of the best places in Rabat, such as the Kasbah des Oudayas. In general, the patience and kindness with which she treated me made us good friends, more than simply language partners. We often met up multiple times during the week, either to hang out around Rabat, just to practice Arabic, or to introduce me to her friends from university. Photo Credit: Z. Ellington, 2018

During our break between sessions, she even invited me home with her to her parents’ house near the Atlas Mountains! There, we spent each day exploring different sites throughout the mountains, including the Ouzoud waterfall, either with her family or by ourselves. And some of these visits are shown in the last pictures. I love nature, so I found this experience incredibly beautiful and exactly what I had hoped to see in Morocco. Moreover, it showed the extent to which my language partner made me feel welcomed and exposed to different aspects of Moroccan culture. Photo Credit: Z. Ellington, 2018

Going into this program, I’d only hoped to have a language partner with whom I could improve my Arabic and be friendly but having her as a good friend and resource helped me feel comfortable and welcome in Rabat. Furthermore, the ability to travel freely allowed me to explore Morocco, immerse myself in Moroccan culture and language, and even recognize cultural variations among different regions. The little things I learned in these ways – such as public transportation etiquette and expectations, medina and beach culture, bargaining, and family dynamics, among many others – made me feel that I truly got to know defining parts of Morocco, all while improving my Arabic. As a result, I’m extremely thankful to have had this experience and the personal growth it inspired. Photo Credit: Z. Ellington, 2018

"Adventures in the Altas Mountains" by Jaycee Miller and Gwenyth Szabo

"Adventures in the Altas Mountains" by Jaycee Miller and Gwenyth Szabo

"Looking Back at the Days in Jordan" by Julia Moore

"Looking Back at the Days in Jordan" by Julia Moore