Morocco Semester

Ancient Cities to the Atlas Mountains

A 3-Month Gap Year Program

Enroll
Duration
85 Days
Description

From forested mountains to the Sahara desert, study the languages, faiths, and diversity of culture that make up the western-most outpost of the Arab world.

Spring Dates

Feb 7 - May 1, 2020


Spring Availability

open

Fall Dates

Sep 15 - Dec 6, 2019


Fall Availability

four spaces

Number of Participants

12


Suggested Ages

17-22

Spring Begins In

30 Weeks

Fall Begins In

9 Weeks

Land Cost

$14,810


Estimated Flight Cost

$1,650

marrakesh

Fes

High Atlas Mountains

casablanca

Essaouira

Valley of the Roses

Azrou

Program Overview

ISLAMIC ART AND DIVERSE TRADITIONS COMBINE IN THE ENCHANTING CITIES WHOSE VERY NAMES STRIKE COLORFUL CHORDS IN THE IMAGINATION: CASABLANCA, MARRAKESH, AND FES.


Within and beyond the city walls, we explore incredible sites, tastes, and experiences, accessible only to the intrepid traveler fueled by a curious spirit.

For 12,000 years Morocco’s indigenous people, the Berber or Amazigh (“Free People”) have lived in the northern corner of Africa where snow-capped mountains explode out of the Sahara Desert. To this day, the stone and mud huts of the Amazigh nest tightly against the jagged Atlas Mountains. From the forested mountains of the north to the stark landscape of the south, we travel through the most ecologically diverse country in North Africa. Buses and pack animals help us wind through the great diversity of people who make up Morocco: youth and elders, urban and rural dwellers, Arabs and indigenous tribes, farmers and academics. Through rugged travel and authentic interactions, we examine the dominate issues of this diverse society standing at the crossroads of Middle Eastern, African, and European cultures.

We stay with urban…

Within and beyond the city walls, we explore incredible sites, tastes, and experiences, accessible only to the intrepid traveler fueled by a curious spirit.

For 12,000 years Morocco’s indigenous people, the Berber or Amazigh (“Free People”) have lived in the northern corner of Africa where snow-capped mountains explode out of the Sahara Desert. To this day, the stone and mud huts of the Amazigh nest tightly against the jagged Atlas Mountains. From the forested mountains of the north to the stark landscape of the south, we travel through the most ecologically diverse country in North Africa. Buses and pack animals help us wind through the great diversity of people who make up Morocco: youth and elders, urban and rural dwellers, Arabs and indigenous tribes, farmers and academics. Through rugged travel and authentic interactions, we examine the dominate issues of this diverse society standing at the crossroads of Middle Eastern, African, and European cultures.

We stay with urban families in cool cinder-block buildings and indigenous families in warm mud-homes, we help host communities with daily activities, travel through striking natural settings, and walk through an endless series of canyons in search of the opportunity to camp alongside nomadic families. Our time in urban environments and remote villages immerses us in Morocco’s unrivaled hospitality, as people welcome us as kin and our cups are never left wanting for sweet mint tea. In a world where understanding Islam becomes increasingly relevant, we are given the unique opportunity to explore philosophical and political Islam, as well as Morocco’s progressive approaches to gender issues and the country’s ethnic diversity.

Flexibility is the modus operandi in Morocco, where transportation is often late, goods are fiercely bargained for, and a simple tea invitation can turn into a day-long interaction. We cast aside expectations while we use newly acquired language and cultural skills to navigate constantly changing situations.

Our journey will allow us to compare the vastly different rural and urban Moroccan lifestyles, as well as see first-hand the varying degrees to which history and religion impact daily duties, culture, and understanding of the world beyond Morocco. In the western-most outpost of the Arab world, we find a place with deep indigenous roots where we  explore a culture which will embrace us at every opportunity with its famed hospitality and kindness.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

5/5
Comparative Religion

Explore the culture and practices which surround Islam in Morocco. Learn about historical and contemporary perspectives on faith through local visits, guest speakers, and daily observations. Investigate the role of women in Islam, the history of Judaism in the country, and how religion impacts every-day life in different parts of the country.

3/5
Development Studies

Learn about the Moroccan monarchy, explore Morocco's progressive legislation aimed at improving the lives of women, and investigate the issues of water management and land-use. Through first-hand observations, observe the effects of tourism and the disparity between development in different areas of the country.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Examine the vast differences between rural and urban Moroccan lives, as well as see first-hand the varying degrees to which religion and limited resources impacts daily duties, economy, education, and local culture.

4/5
Homestay

Spend several weeks living with a family in a semi-urban environment in the north of the country and 1-2 weeks in a rural homestay where the mountains meet the desert in the south of Morocco. During treks, camp alongside nomadic families who make their home in the High Atlas Mountains. Possible additional group homestays throughout the program.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Choose a topic of interest to investigate independently such as indigenous language, traditional dance, healthcare and traditional medicine, drumming, Gnaoua music, Moroccan cooking, human migration, or henna.

4/5
Language Study

Study Moroccan colloquial Arabic through regular lessons which focus on developing key communication abilities. Learn to write the Arabic alphabet and use your time in Morocco to develop rare Arabic language skills. Spend time also exploring one of the dialects of the indigenous Berber (Amazigh) language.

2/5
Learning Service

Learn directly from local community association members and see how they identify and carry out projects to improve the opportunities of local youth, artisans, or women.

3/5
Rugged Travel

Travel by shared van, bus, train, and the ubiquitous “grand taxi” through a country the size of California. Trek and camp in remote areas in High Atlas mountain villages and stay in homestays with limited amenities.

3/5
Trekking

Spend around 10 days trekking in the remote High Atlas and Middle Atlas Mountains which are home to numerous different tribes. Explore the remote nomadic region of the Imilchil Lakes before you begin a traverse of the M'Goun Massif in the central High Atlas Mountains. Participate in day-hikes in the Fez or Marrakesh region as well, exploring the foothills of the High Atlas or the cedar forests of the Middle Atlas.