Hey everyone! Or should I say bonjour, howdy, shalom, hola, and salaam! My name is Julie Fisher and I am so excited to be a blog abroad correspondent for the Area and Arabic Language program in Rabat, Morocco. I am writing from the perspective of someone with the unique opportunity of living in three different continents within one year. Allow me to explain: I am from Dallas, Texas, and I am a junior at American University in DC, majoring in French and North African Studies and minoring in physics (strange combination, I know!). This year, I decided to study abroad, like so many of my peers do, but unlike most people, I wanted to go to two different countries over the two semesters. For the fall, I was an exchange student at a political science university in Paris, France. Now, during the spring semester, I will be in Rabat, Morocco. I chose to come to Morocco because it seemed like the perfect fit for what I’m studying. I will be able to use my French language skills while at the same time learning Arabic for the first time and immersing myself in the unique culture of North Africa. Although I have heard about how hard learning Arabic can be, and about the struggles of cultural differences many people experience, I am eagerly anticipating meeting these challenges. I am a firm believer that the excitement of life begins when you step outside your comfort zone.
Along that same mindset, it might make sense to tell you that one of my greatest obsessions in life is gymnastics. Although I haven’t been able to do practice it this past year while abroad, I have done it basically nonstop since preschool. Consequentially, I have been known to perplex locals and tourists alike by taking handstand photos in front of famous landmarks.
Throughout this blog, I hope to bring a new set of eyes and ears to the comings and goings of life in Rabat. Sure, I want to see the well-known parts of the area, but I am most excited about what shorter-term visitors don’t get to experience, especially living with a Moroccan host family. I want to see what life is like beyond the typical. I have a theory that is nondescript or hidden parts of a city that make it most beautiful. My roommate this past semester used to joke that she would take photos of the “pretty” things (buildings, statues, gardens), while I took care of photographing the “ugly” things (pigeons, flea markets, street art, etc.).
Some other fun facts about me: I take any opportunity to travel- anywhere and everywhere! I have recently come to love taking a bus or train to a new city with my trusty backpack and discovering the quirks and uniqueness of the area. I also really enjoy learning languages; I am functionally fluent in French, and I also know a little Spanish and Hebrew, but I am especially looking forward to learning Arabic. On the rare occasion that I have free time, I enjoy taking photos, working out, and the nerd comes out in me when I tell you that I can also solve a Rubik’s cube and follow science news online.
I know it sort of sounds cliché to say that one of my goals this semester is to find what lies off the beaten path, but it’s true. I know it might be hard to try to meet local people and to converse in a foreign language. I know it might be hard to try to balance schoolwork with traveling and learning about the area. And I know it might be hard to reconsider my conceptions of how day to day life should flow. However, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, and I hope that this coming semester, learning to simply live in a new place in this way will turn into me learning to love it.