Hello all! My name is Connor. I cannot express in words how blessed and excited I am to be AMIDEAST’s Rabat Correspondent. It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to entertain and inform Mosaic readers this upcoming fall. It is my goal that this blog will serve as a bridge between an unsure student mulling over study abroad destinations to a student making that blind leap into a life abroad for a semester or academic year.
An introduction is in order. I am entering my senior year at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. I major in International Studies with a concentration in the Middle East/North Africa region and am also pursuing a minor in Business Administration. My undergraduate education has been enriched through a number of extracurricular activities, ranging from working as an Orientation Leader for CSU, being an active member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, to acting as a conversation partner for Arab speaking students. I enjoy the outdoors and have a keen ear for good music (so I think). For me, studying abroad in Morocco compliments my academic goals and I hope to use the following semester to grow intellectually and professionally. I am sure it will not disappoint.
Although Morocco was a fitting destination for a student learning about the Middle East, this reason alone would not explain why I have chosen to live in Rabat for the fall. I have always been interested in other cultures. When I was young, I would stare at maps and atlases for hours on end, imagining how the land would look in certain places and what the people were like. As a high school student, I was lucky enough to travel to London with the band, where we performed and explored, further sparking my desire for meaningful travel. These experiences and countless others I cannot remember laid the groundwork for an education of the world.
Once I got to college, I was amazed at how interconnected my very own campus was. It was sometimes overwhelming to meet so many people from so many different cultures and stories. Of particular surprise to me was the abundance of individuals from the Middle East. I found myself seeking them out, whether at an orientation event, the library, or in the international programs office. My Arabic improved from not knowing a single word to half functional (I hope that’s enough for Rabat!) and I made numerous connections. Such interactions with my Arab peers have made me realize the importance of the Middle East/North Africa in the 21st century. I am eager to be an advocate for this region and its people, and, more importantly, for positive relationships between them and Western students.
Every new experience comes with some fear attached to it. I am afraid of leaving the creature comforts of the U.S., of language barriers with locals in Rabat, and other trivial annoyances associated with adjusting to a new way of life. I guess my only sincere fear is more a feeling of sadness: of leaving a bunch of people I have come to call my friends and family. My gloom does not last long though, as I am comforted by the fact that I will see them again. I will certainly be different, hopefully for the better and with plenty of good stories.
In sha’ Allah (God willing) dear reader, you will find these posts informative, entertaining, and wanderlust provoking. A genuine thank you to all the professors, professional staff, and friends at CSU for empowering me to undertake this trip and helping out along the way. I also want to thank my family for their unending support and advice. This experience will be something sublime and unforgettable. Thank you for taking the time to read!