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Morocco

Morocco is situated in the northwest corner of Africa and shares its borders with Algeria, the contested Western Sahara, and the Spanish protectorates (Ceuta and Melilla). Morocco is a mere 45 minutes away from Spain by ferry ride. The dominant languages in Morocco are Arabic, Berber, and French (for Business use), but the English language is also on the rise as it is a way to increase tourism and increase one’s job opportunities. Morocco remains a Muslim country and its form of government is a constitutional monarchy. King Mohammed VI is Morocco’s current leader; you can see his picture or billboard across every town you travel to in Morocco. Of significant importance as well are the Berbers, or Amazigh to be politically correct, who are the indigenous people of Morocco similar to our Native Americans with some crucial differences. There are mixed theories about where they came from, ranging from Palestine to Yemen, but as mountain nomads they have had to fight to preserve their culture from first Muslim expansion and later against French colonization. They have since recently been the forgotten past of this country and only recently have been re-introduced into history books with governmental organizations established to help restore their language, history, and culture. Further, differing from orthodox Arab culture their women play extremely dominant positions within the family and Tribal system. The Moroccanswe have experienced at our university in Ifrane, Morocco has been somewhat different than the lives ‘typical’ Moroccans would lead. First of all, Al Akhwayn University (AUI) is located in the heart of the Middle Atlas Mountains which places it at around 5,000 feet. We experienced several feet of snow our first week here, which is not true for all of Morocco. The majority of Morocco is either coastal or desert so it is not as mountainous as where we are living. Another difference about our current location is that we are attending an Englishspeaking university so all classes are taught in English except for the foreign language courses (i.e. French, Arabic, Spanish). Some of the highlights of travels and stay throughout Morocco has been the generosity of Moroccans, the mint tea (also called Moroccan Tea), the lush green landscape/countryside, a different sense of timeliness that Americans possess (Usually about 30minutes to an hour behind schedule), and the art of barteringas a cultural practice. Moroccans are extremely accepting of tourists in their country, and Americans in particular. Many have greeted us saying that we are their “brothers” and other such friendly expressions.

Atlantic Ocean – Assilah, Morocco.

Dades Gorge, Morocco.

Near Dades Gorge, Morocco.

Snow-capped High Atlas Mountains, Morocco.

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco.

The Barbary Macaque (monkeys) near Azrou, Morocco.

Ifrane, Morocco (town where Al Akhwayn University is located).

Berber woman, Kenitra, Morocco.