IES Abroad Rabat, Morocco
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Katherine Huskin

Major: International Relations and French
Minor: Global Health and International Studies
Hometown: Camp Hill, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

My mother works in study abroad and she told me about the program. I looked it up online and the reviews were wonderful and I felt like it was the perfect choice for my semester abroad.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

Part of the reason I chose to come to Morocco was that it was a country that I knew little about. It was a bit scary not really knowing what to expect, but IES did a wonderful job of teaching us about cultural norms and assimilating us into Moroccan culture. We have traveled to several big cities within Morocco as part of the program and after we completed orientation we have been given a fair amount of freedom to do what we like, though we do need to be smart about respecting Moroccan cultural norms. I like to think I have taken full advantage of the experience, taking part in an internship where I teach English to kids and adults, and following a French class at a local university. I have gotten to see a side of Morocco that few foreigners ever get to experience. I wouldn't change this experience for the world.

How did this experience impact you academically?

As a French and International Relations double-major, I have taken the two French classes offered at the IES center, and a class at the local university. Before I came to Morocco, I was already fluent in French, so I was able to take advantage of those opportunities with no difficulty. While the true local language is Darija, the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, I have gotten extensive opportunities to practice French and most Moroccans speak French fluently. I have tried to take up the native language to become more assimilated into the culture, and everyone has been so helpful and pleased that I am trying. IES students are also required to take 6 credits of Modern Standard Arabic, so regardless of whether you are interested in taking Arabic or not, you will. The program encourages using Arabic, and I have grown to appreciate that aspect. There were plenty of courses for me as a Liberal Arts major to choose from that related directly to my major. All of the classes really enhance the experience of living in Morocco and help the student gain perspective on the culture and its people. Classes are relatively easy, while you do have to do some work they are less demanding than classes at Penn State.

All of the classes really enhance the experience of living in Morocco and help the student gain perspective on the culture and its people.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

My future plans being involved in either a volunteer program that focuses on international development or the Peace Corps. After completing my graduate degree, I would like to found my own non-profit or non-governmental organization that focuses on women's rights or social development in less-developed countries. I want to approach this from a cooperative perspective, and work with locals to make efficient progress that respects the local culture. Luckily, the internship experience that IES offers focuses on NGO operations and the professor is an American who started her own NGO and has been living in Morocco for 20 years. Naturally, the experience has only reinforced my career goals and the reasons I want to pursue them, but it also makes me want to quit college and stay in Morocco forever.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this experience to other students who have similar approaches to life as me. Anyone choosing to go to Morocco needs to have an open mind to different perspectives that Americans might consider outdated. Cultural differences have largely not posed a problem for me, although I was an exchange student in high school, so I knew how to approach the conundrum of living abroad. You definitely have to be willing to be flexible and make the effort to assimilate into the culture, but if you manage to do that it is more than worth it. I think that most students would grow to adore Morocco as the alternative, transformative experience that it has been for me. I don't tend to exaggerate, but these last few months have been the best in my entire life, and it breaks my heart that it is halfway over already.

To find out more about global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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