Tag Archives: Teaching

“Marrakech and Learning More about Myself” by Elizabeth Beaton


This past weekend I traveled to Marrakech with two friends from AMIDEAST. We organized the trip ourselves with suggestions from the program, and on Friday afternoon after class I found myself on the train heading off to Marrakech for a busy weekend. The plan for the weekend included touristy activities in Marrakech like visiting the Jemma el-Fnaa a square located by the markets of the medina and the Bahia palace and gardens. Below is a photo with my two friends from one of the courtyards in the Bahia palace.

courtyard bahia palace with ayesha and mariah

We also planned a day trip to the waterfalls of Ozoud on Saturday. I loved being more independent during this weekend and applying other skills like time management, communication, and self-awareness, that I have developed during my time so far in Morocco.

While on the train from Rabat to Marrakech, which lasts about five hours, I finished some of my readings for the upcoming week of classes. The trip gave me plenty of time to look out the window, read about comparative political theory, and chat with other people in the train compartment. I managed my time so that I could enjoy traveling to really beautiful places, while also balancing my academics. I am motivated to manage my time well because I am living in such a beautiful country.

Once in Marrakech I had the opportunity to practice some of the communication skills that I have developed while in Morocco. I put my Darija knowledge to good use while bargaining with taxi drivers to lower the cost of a fare and while bargaining for pottery in the souq– market. This weekend I also texted with my language partner about my travels and practiced more of my Arabic with her.

Throughout the weekend I tried to continue to be self-aware and to know myself more. This skill is one I am always trying to improve. I reach out for help when I need to. On Saturday morning this meant calling our program coordinator to help explain the situation to a taxi driver who would then take us to the waterfalls. Ozoud helped me to reaffirm how much I love nature and how happy it makes me. The long taxi ride back to Marrakech on Saturday evening provided me with time for journaling and self-reflection. By taking time to process all of the beautiful moments and also the harder moments, I discovering more about myself and what I love. This was the beautiful view of the waterfall.


Sunday morning before catching the train back to Rabat, I went to the Bahia palace and the Ben Youssef Madrasa. I spent time on the train reflecting the skills I practiced during the weekend, writing down research questions about public transportation, and scrolling through my camera roll. Here are some of the photo highlights of the Bahia Palace and a photo me at the Ben Youssef Madrasa.

madrasa ben youssef


bahia palace stained glass


 Bahia palace

Until next time!



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Filed under Elizabeth Beaton

“Learning and Teaching Language” by Sofia Deak

Before I came to Morocco, I knew that “improving my Arabic” was one of my major objectives, but I didn’t imagine what that would actually look like. Through the extreme patience of my host mom and our daily discussions in Arabic after dinner, I have become confident enough to have conversations in Arabic without relying on English. Using a combination of Standard Arabic and Moroccan Darija (as well as a fair amount of pantomiming) I am improving beyond my previous expectations.

Photo 1 - Deak, Sofia.JPG

While I am really proud of the progress I am making, that does not negate the fact that I am realizing how incredibly diverse the Arabic language is, and how truly difficult it is to master. I get discouraged when I spend two hours poring over my vocabulary homework, only to forget the majority of the words the next day. Also, I always knew there were different dialects that were significantly different— however, I did not realize how much the language might differ WITHIN a dialect. In Morocco, diversity is one of the only constants. For example, a Moroccan from Tangier in the north might have a difficult time understanding a Moroccan from Ouarzazate, in the south. Tajine, the famous Moroccan staple food, is pronounced “tajouane” in the north, and this is just one of countless examples of dialectic differences that exist within the Moroccan dialect, completely ignoring how foreign Darija is from Standard Arabic and all other Arabic dialects!

It is easy to get frustrated in trying to learn Arabic, and sometimes I feel discouraged that I will never be able to be as comfortable with the language as I would like. (This happens especially when an earnest Moroccan is trying to explain something to me in Darija, whether at a restaurant or in a taxi or on a train— and all I can offer them is a confused look and a sorry smile.) However, there are shining moments that remind me to keep trying, and that the experience of learning the language is just as amazing as being able to use it. Last night, I learned the word for “tickle” in Arabic and Darija, thanks to my host mom starting some impromptu tickle fights — during dinner!! Lots of spilled water, fits of laughter, and sprinting away from the table later, I don’t think I will ever forget the word, or this moment.

Photo 2 - Deak, Sofia.JPG

Another thing that encourages me is the weekly English teaching that I have been engaged in since my arrival in Rabat. My students are beginners, so really new to English. They have so much to learn, but they are so eager and dedicated. Most are adult learners, which itself is a challenge, but being able to say simple sentences excites them so much. This project really reinvigorates me with the understanding that learning a language takes time, and that is sometimes boring and full of flashcards, but also can be really memorable and full of laughs (and not only when learning the word for “ticklish”). Ultimately, I know that I am making huge improvements thanks to being in Morocco, and I cannot wait to learn more!

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Filed under Area & Arabic Language Studies, Morocco, Sofia Deak