I was lucky to spend my last two days of Morocco in Rabat, a small but vibrant city on the Atlantic coast. Rabat is special for many reasons. First and foremost, it’s the capital of the nation. The city houses embassies and consulates, government agencies, and of course, the royal family. Most importantly to me, Rabat is the city where the current NSLI-Y Arabic Academic Year students are living! They are a group of gap year students spending a year of their life learning Arabic and immersing themselves in the language and culture of Morocco.
In the past two days, I had the opportunity to meet four of these students in person, chat with them, and get a better idea of their life abroad. On Tuesday night, I had dinner with Lillian in a wonderful créperie. We had messaged each other for a while when we were first accepted into NSLI-Y, and I had been actively following her blog. It was great to get to meet her and talk about her experiences in Morocco. The next day, I had lunch with Elise and Clay. Elise had been an amazing go-to resource before and after I went to Jordan, giving me Arabic tips and advice on how to continue my language learning. She was actually the one who told me about Preply, the program with which I take my regular Skype classes. She took me around their language school Amideast, and we talked about the triumphs (and struggles) of spending a year abroad. In the evening, I met Dana at Bab El Had. Dana is an extremely advanced student on the NSLI-Y program (she finished the entire Al Kitaab series!!), and it was great to discuss language and linguistics with her, as well as gain some tips on how to improve both my fus7a (Modern Standard Arabic) and 3ammiye (dialect).
Drawing from the insight I gained from the current students, I learnt that spending a year abroad was proving to be a very fulfilling experience. Granted, homesickness and culture shock were just as strong as ever, but they all felt that their Arabic was improving greatly, and that this was an experience that they wouldn’t regret, despite the inherent challenges. Meeting the students in person has made me even more motivated to apply for the NSLI-Y Academic Year program next year (for a gap year). Inshallah, they will have a program in Jordan! 🙂
I’m writing this blog post while sitting on the ground in line to check my bags at the Casablanca airport. The line is long, but there is Wi-Fi, so that’s always a plus. I’ve taken to finishing a lot of my blog posts with “Inshallah”, and since I’m in an Arabic-speaking country, let me add a few more. With the NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop just around the corner (tomorrow!!), Inshallah I will land in Austin in time! I half-packed for Washington before I left, so Inshallah I’ll get my suitcase ready for the early flight on Friday morning. With all the severe weather up North, Inshallah the flights will be in order. And Inshallah my presentation at the State Department will go well!!
Oh! One last thing! I’ll write about all of the above “Inshallahs” soon– Inshallah!