When I started taking Arabic fall term of my freshman year of college, I never expected it would land me here, finalizing my packing list for the semester I will spend in Rabat. And yet here I am! I am incredibly honored to be the Fall 2015 Blog Correspondent for the AMIDEAST Program in Morocco. For those of you reading, wherever you might be, I hope I will be able to provide you with some meaningful insight into the four months I am about to spend in Morocco. I will try my best to give you an accurate portrayal of my semester in Rabat, as well as my insights and discoveries along the way.
But before I can tell you about what I am going to be doing, you ought to know a little bit about me. My name is Mika, and I am a rising junior at Carleton College, a liberal arts school in the Midwest. My path to studying abroad in Morocco has been unique to say the least. For starters, I am majoring in physics and getting a certificate, similar to a minor, in Arabic. In addition to studying science and languages, I also love dancing, rock climbing, and astronomy.
I believe in the importance of being a global citizen, and of learning how to connect with a broad range of people. I also believe that the only way to truly be successful in studying a language is to immerse yourself in the language in a place where it is spoken in daily life. I made the decision to spend my next semester in Rabat for a variety of reasons, but immersion in language was the main one. Having studied French as well as Arabic, I am eager to be in a place where I can speak and practice both languages. I am excited to devote myself to soaking up as much language as I can for the next four months and to finally have the chance to be surrounded by spoken Arabic every day. Though I know my brain is going to be extremely confused for a while!
Besides being in a new country, Rabat will be a new environment for me in another way as well; I have never before lived in a city. I am looking forward to navigating all the different challenges of the city, though I know it will at times be at least as challenging as navigating the challenges of a new country. By the end of the program, I hope to be whizzing around in petit taxis like a pro. As a college student, I have gotten used to traveling around and not having one permanent living place for an extended period of time, though I have never traveled anywhere as distant as this before. Throughout my time in college I have been interested in the idea of “home” and of how our identities are shaped by the places we visit and live. I still feel deeply connected to the small town I am from, but I am also eager to explore and discover other places and environments. I know that these experiences will change some of who I am and how I perceive the world. As such, I am interested in pursuing ideas of identity and shifting culture in Morocco. I hope to share many of my musings and discoveries in this subject with you all as well.
Now, I am off to finish printing the last few documents I need, before I begin this exciting new chapter in my life. I will be back in just a few weeks to let you know how I am, and the other AMIDEAST students are, settling in to the beginning of our term in Morocco.