Grace studied in Morocco on the IES: Rabat, Study in Rabat Program during the Fall of 2015.
If you could give only one reason, why would you suggest other students study abroad?
Students need to study abroad so they have room and resources to THINK- it’s so easy to get caught up in classes, work, worries, plans for the future, etc in school. Sometimes it can get to the point where you’re almost a robot, doing things. Study abroad let me take a step back and think about everything I had been doing and am planning on doing, and helped me find clarity in all of it. Being able to do that, plus being surrounded by so many new and different people, cultures, personalities, and experiences broadened my mind and gave me perspective on the possibilities out there.
If you could go abroad again, what would you do differently?
I would write a journal every day. It wouldn’t even have to be long, lengthy, or in full sentences. Just a simple date, with quick notes about what happened that day. It’s easy to forget the little moments but sometimes those can be the most moving.
What specific factors influenced your decision to go abroad?
I knew I wanted to go and live somewhere very different from what I had grown up in. Study abroad is such a unique opportunity because it might be one of the few times where you can go live in a different country, take classes, immerse yourself, and not have “grown-up” or “real-life” problems to worry about. I couldn’t give up that chance.
What concerns/fears did you have about studying abroad, and how did you overcome them?
I was nervous about making friends, and how I was adjust to such a different experience. My program was relatively small, only 33 people, so it was great for me because I got to talk to every single person for more than just five minutes and really get to know them. Going through orientation and exploring the cities all together made the transition virtually seamless for me.
What was it about your program specifically that fit your personal goals over other programs?
I really wanted to learn the local dialect, and the program definitely encouraged us to practice our Arabic. We had great professors, and I was able to practice every day with my host family. My goal was to jump right in and immerse myself as much as possible, and learning the language helped a lot.
How have you used the skills you learned abroad now that you are back; either in job searching, or in other activities?
While I was in Morocco I learned a lot about the country itself, and about world affairs. Islam specifically fascinated me, because I did not know much about religion at all before studying abroad, and being able to learn about Islam and see it manifested in the people around me was a very eye-opening experience. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been much more keen on following politics and world news.