Morocco (AUI) FAQ

Table of Contents

Academics

Costs

Safety

Logistics

Travel

ACADEMICS:

What happens during the pre-semester Moroccan Arabic and Culture program in Rabat for the Semester/Academic Year at Al-Akhawayn University (AUI)?

Students will attend AMIDEAST’s Moroccan Arabic and Culture program in Rabat for three weeks prior to the start of the program at AUI in Ifrane. During this pre-semester program students take a three-semester credit course on Moroccan Arabic and Culture, including 35 hours of instruction in Moroccan Arabic, and 10 hours of instruction in Moroccan culture. Students will be staying with a Moroccan host family during those three weeks and the host family will provide students with meals. Students will also receive a cultural orientation during the Moroccan Arabic and Culture Program along with visits to key sites of historical and cultural significance in the Rabat area.

 

How can I make sure that I receive academic credit from my university?

Students are responsible for making sure their home institution is willing to grant credit for the program prior to enrolling. Each institution has a different transfer credit process.

 

How will I receive my course grades?

Al-Akhawayn University issues an official transcript with credits received and letter grades. One transcript will be sent to your university. AMIDEAST will issue either a grade report or a transcript from the School of Record for the Moroccan Arabic and Culture Program. Students are responsible for making sure their home institution is willing to grant credit for the program prior to enrolling. Each institution has a different transfer credit process and AMIDEAST staff will provide documentation and other information to help you complete the process at your institution. For more information regarding grade reports and transcripts, please visit this page.

 

What are the classes like?

This program offers a diverse curriculum through direct enrollment at Al Akhawayn University (AUI), a private Moroccan university patterned on the American model of higher education.  A full semester course load at AUI is 5 courses per semester (15 credits); some exceptions are made on an individual basis. More information about specific courses offerings can be found at the AUI homepage.

 

Where do classes take place? 

Classes during the pre-semester Moroccan Arabic and Culture program are held in AMIDEAST’s center in Rabat, located in Rabat’s Agdal district.  The AMIDEAST/Morocco center offers a number of different services to individuals and local organizations such as English language courses, professional training, entrepreneurship workshops and mentoring, scholarship opportunities in the U.S. and elsewhere, management consulting and coaching, internationally recognized test administration, and educational advising and placement services. In other words, the AMIDEAST center is a hub for many different education and training activities, not only education abroad programs.

For the remainder of the term, students on the program reside and attend classes at the 98-acre AUI campus located in the town of Ifrane. The campus includes modern classroom buildings and dormitories, as well as a library and IT facilities, sports facilities, and a student center including dining halls.

The majority of AUI’s 1300+ students study full-time and live on campus.  The student population is equally balanced between men and women. There is an increasingly international character to the student body, with over 160 students of 28 nationalities on campus in study abroad and exchange programs during the regular semester, or during the intensive Arabic and North African Studies summer program.  The student-faculty ratio is 11 students for each full-time faculty member.  Because the average class size is 17, students have ample opportunity to question, respond, and interact with their professors and classmates.

The administrative, pedagogical, and academic organization of AUI is modeled on the American university system, and English is the language of instruction.

 

What is the grading scale?

Courses are graded on a 4.0 scale using the U.S. letter grade system.

 

Where can I learn more about Al Akhawayn University's Academic Policies

Please consult the Al Akhawayn University student handbooks for policies related to academic matters.  Electronic versions of the AUI International Student Handbook and the general Student Handbook (for all AUI students) can be found at http://www.aui.ma/en/international

 

I have not studied Arabic, but would like to participate in the program. Will I encounter any difficulties communicating?

Yes, but not insurmountable difficulties. Your professors and colleagues at AUI will all speak English. You will study colloquial Arabic during the Moroccan Arabic and Culture Program (pre-semester) and will quickly learn enough to ask and understand the basic questions and responses to routine conversation. As the program progresses, your proficiency will increase and your difficulties will lessen. You will also find that a significant number of Moroccans outside of AUI also speak enough English to help you if you cannot make yourself understood in Arabic. While in Morocco you will have ample opportunity to learn and practice Arabic with people you encounter.

 

I do not have any French language experience, but would like to study French while in Morocco; do I have any options?

Yes. AUI offers a variety of French classes, which you can enroll in directly. You can view AUI’s course catalog online here.

 

SAFETY

What resources do I have regarding security information?

All students are able to access the website of a company called iJET: Intelligent Risk Systems. iJET’s mission is to protect international travelers through the use of technology and intelligence. Students can view the iJET website for background information on their local community and other places they may be visiting. Detailed information about iJET and the services available will be communicated shortly before your departure for the program country.

What if I get sick?

As part of the program fee, AMIDEAST provides medical and accident insurance for all students through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). In addition to medical insurance, AMIDEAST education abroad students are provided with medical and security evacuation coverage through CISI. Students at AUI have access to the on-campus health center and are covered by AUI student health insurance in addition to their CISI coverage.

COSTS:

What does the program fee include?

The program fee covers pre-departure preparation, onsite orientation, enrollment in up to 15 credits at AUI, all-inclusive three-week Moroccan Arabic and Culture Program (pre-semester), housing in a double room in a student residence hall, meal plan at AUI, program-organized excursions, supplementary lectures and special events, and medical insurance (including medical evacuation and repatriation, and political and security evacuation coverage).

 

What costs are not covered?

Students are responsible for international airfare, local transportation costs (aside from transportation to and from the airport), additional meals, textbooks, travel insurance, optional excursions, communication and other personal expenses.

 

How much spending money will I need? 

Although our programs operate in areas of the world where the cost-of-living is significantly less than in the U.S. or Europe, we do suggest that students appropriately budget for spending money during their time abroad. The amount of spending money a student will need depends on spending habits and travel plans. Students are also responsible for phone and internet costs, outside of the AMIDEAST/AUI facilities, incurred while on the program. It is considered very thoughtful to bring small gifts to give to your host family during the Moroccan Arabic and Culture Program (pre-semester) and sometimes friends you may meet during your time abroad. Please refer to the cost section of the program on the website for an overview of expected personal expenses. 

 

How can I access my money?

There are many international and national banks with ATM services in most Moroccan cities, including in Ifrane. There is also an ATM on the AUI campus.  ATMs in Morocco are quite reliable, and the easiest and most convenient way to obtain cash.  However, you should ask your bank if they charge a fee for international ATM transactions; they may also have other recommendations for accessing your funds overseas. Traveler’s checks provide added security, but are not recommended as they are not widely accepted and the exchange rate is much worse.  Credit cards, especially Visa and MasterCard, are accepted at major hotels, and at some high-end restaurants, shops and grocery stores.  If you plan to use one of these cards (debit or credit) you should notify your card company that you will be in Morocco, as they often place security holds on accounts when foreign charges appear unexpectedly. Also, please make sure that you have a 4 digit pin, as some places can not accommodate longer pin numbers.

 

Are scholarships available?

AMIDEAST offers scholarship opportunities to students participating in our Education Abroad programs.  For more information, including eligibility and application process for AMIDEAST Scholarships as well as links to external scholarship opportunities please visit the scholarships section of our website. The scholarship application deadline is usually the same as the program application deadline.

 

I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and an Arab country—does this make a difference in my financial aid chances?

Yes, if you happen to be a U.S. citizen, you will be eligible for a larger number of awards as well as U.S. federal financial aid, which can be used for study abroad programs. Sometimes aid is also reserved specifically for non-U.S. citizens. You need to make sure the university is clear about your citizenship in advance so that you receive the correct financial aid information and forms.

 

LOGISTICS:

Do I need to bring my laptop?

Al-Akhawayn University’s campus is thoroughly wired and is moving gradually to a wireless environment.  There are a number of computers available for student use. Ifrane also has some internet cafes that charge between 5-10 DH (roughly $1-$2) an hour for use of their computers. Also, be aware that keyboards in Morocco are AZERTY or ‘French’ format, which uses different key positions. 

Although computers are available, AMIDEAST recommends that students bring a laptop if possible in order to complete Arabic listening activities (using DVDs) and to be able to complete homework. You may want to consider purchasing laptop insurance in case of damage or theft.  Please note that Mac support is limited and expensive in Morocco generally.

 

Will I have regular access to the internet?

While in Rabat, the AMIDEAST Rabat office, where classrooms and administrative offices are located, has wireless internet access for study abroad students. Students may either use the computers in the office or bring their own laptops and use the network during working hours (Sunday – Thursday, 8.30 AM to 8.00 PM). Host families may have a computer with Internet access that is shared with the entire family that they may allow you to use, but students should not count on this being the case. Rabat also has many relatively cheap Internet cafes.  Please keep in mind that internet will not be as strong or as consistent as you are used to in the U.S.

To connect to Al Akhawayn University’s local area network and thus to the internet you must have an Ethernet card installed in your computer. A modem will not allow you to connect to the AUI local area network. To connect your computer to the AUI local area network you will also need an RJ 45 (Ethernet) cable which is available in Ifrane, but not for sale on campus. The library and some parts of campus have wireless access. Technical assistance is available on the AUI campus.

 

What are my housing options?

During the Moroccan Arabic and Culture Program (pre-semester) in Rabat, students will be housed with host families.  Host families provide students with a window into Moroccan culture; this unique experience will give students a view into the important role family plays in Moroccan society as well as how local community affects family life. 

Students in the AMIDEAST Education Abroad Program at Al-Akhawayn University (AUI) in Ifrane live in on-campus dormitories, in double rooms with Moroccan roommates. There are seventeen dormitory-style residences on the AUI campus, ranging from small buildings with as few as 56 beds, to large buildings with as many as 200+ beds. All AUI residence halls include a common kitchen, and student rooms are well-equipped with telephone, television, and Internet connections.

How are host families selected?

For years, AMIDEAST has provided host family placement and support for a variety of study abroad programs. Within AMIDEAST’s host family network, many families have hosted a series of students and are familiar with the program and student experience. Our experienced field staff carefully screens and selects host families from a cross section of society. Additionally, each host family participates in a host family orientation in order to better understand their roles and responsibilities for the program.

 

What is the host family experience like?

The host family experience is a memorable, rewarding, yet challenging program component. Living with a host family will require some adaptation on your part. For example, it is possible that you may share a room with a host family member of the same gender. Thus you may experience standards of privacy and personal independence that are different from what you have at home on your home campus. There will also be a variety of economic levels and religions found among host families. While living with a host family, you will be able to observe and experience many different aspects of daily life. Host families will likely treat you as part of the family and will include you in many of their daily activities such as cooking, eating, and family outings. It is up to you to determine how invested you are in your host family’s activities; please keep in mind, though, that you are expected to approach these experiences with flexibility, an open mind and a positive attitude. You are also most likely to have another AMIDEAST Education Abroad student living with you and your host family.

 

What language will my host family speak?

In Middle East and North African countries, family members converse in colloquial Arabic and in Morocco they also may speak French, Spanish, or one of the Amazigh (indigenous) dialects such as Tamazight, Tashelhit, or Tarafit. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is not used for everyday conversations but it is used in the press and in formal documents. Since most of AMIDEAST's host families have previously welcomed American students into their homes, they are accustomed to effectively interacting with them. Some members of your host family may speak English, however they are instructed to speak to you in Arabic. If needed, remind them to speak to you in Arabic, as they will often switch to English out of politeness to make things easier for you. If you prefer to be with a family that does not speak English, please indicate that on your personal profile form and will try our best to fulfill that request.

What accommodations are available for religious beliefs, practices, and observance?

Please visit the General FAQ page to learn more about accommodations

Will I be able to use Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in my daily life?

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is not used for daily life interactions in any Arab country; it is only used in formal settings such as interviews and speeches. You may use MSA when looking at electronic and print media, and books. While everyone will understand you when you speak MSA, they will likely respond to you in colloquial Arabic.

 

Will my host family be Muslim?

Islam is the official state religion and nearly 99% of Moroccans are Sunni Muslims. Thus, it is highly likely that you will be living with a Muslim family.

 

What should I bring my host family?

Usually students bring items for their host family that represents their particular culture, region, or home institution. For example, past students have brought candies, nuts, and calendars specific to their city or state. They have also brought T-shirts, mugs or baseball caps with their university or college logos. Some families may have kids, so you could bring games or toys that are not age specific (a hacky sack, a card game, travel games, playing cards, American music/DVDs, etc.). It is also possible to bring something small and then purchase something in Morocco that you think they might like/need for the home. Your host family will also want to see photos of your family and of the places you live, so you could bring some with you. If you would like to give your family a parting gift, past students have collected photos that they took with their family during their stay and put these in photo albums or frames. Previous AMIDEAST students have suggested that students provide their family with a small parting gift which can be more meaningful than an arrival gift.

 

How should I plan to dress?

In Rabat: Although Rabat is a cosmopolitan North African country, Moroccan society remains fairly conservative, thus a certain degree of modesty is recommended.

In Ifrane: The dress code on campus is casual, like on most North American and European university campuses. You will find many female students who dress in modern, international styles alongside others who wear more conservative clothes and head scarves. Clothing is usually clean and neat, not torn or grungy.

In Morocco, summers are fairly hot while winters can be quite cold, with temperatures below freezing not uncommon in Morocco. Since the daily temperature during the fall and spring fluctuates, we recommend that you dress in layers. Ifrane is at slightly over 5000 feet in altitude and is a winter ski resort for Moroccans.  Therefore, at times it can be rainy, snowy, and quite cold. You should ensure that you pack warm clothes for the winter months.

For women, we recommend basic, cotton apparel such as: three quarter length-sleeved shirts, Capri trousers or skirts below the knee and jeans. Do not bring sleeveless shirts, tank tops or excessively tight clothing. Cotton shirts or sweaters and jeans or trousers are suitable for men. When visiting mosques or when traveling, we recommend trousers or long skirts. Please bring comfortable walking shoes as you will spend a lot time walking and exploring. Dressing respectfully demonstrates adaptability and will help minimize unwanted attention, especially for women. A packing list is located in the Student Handbook which is shared with participants on the Student Portal prior to departure.

 

Will I be able to travel around the country during the program?

Students may travel independently during the program. Any and all travel is undertaken at their own risk. While AUI students are not required to inform AMIDEAST of their travels, we strongly recommend students inform AUI staff, friends, or family of the details of their travel so their whereabouts are known.

 

Will I have a phone?

Upon arrival, all students are supplied with a mobile phone and a local number. These are pay-as-you-go phones, so when the initial allocation of minutes runs out you will have to buy a top-up card either from the mobile provider at a company store or from one of the many kiosks (“hanoot”) and small stores that sell them. The phone, along with the charger, must be returned to AMIDEAST at the end of your term.  Most participants prefer to text each other and use Skype for international calls as calls can be relatively expensive to make on the pay-as-you-go phones.

It is not recommended that you use your US cell phone while abroad, as international phone charges tend to be surprisingly expensive. That being said, if you have a smart phone, you can bring this along and turn off your data setting and use simply to connect to the internet. Please only do so if you are not concerned about your phone being lost or stolen.

 

What pre-departure information will I receive?

Students receive communication from AMIDEAST Washington, D.C. staff and/or the AUI International Programs Office regarding courses, housing, insurance, packing, flights, visas and what to expect upon arrival. AMIDEAST staff is available to answer program and country specific questions and ensure students are prepared prior to departure for their host country. Additional resources are also available to you on line through AUI’s website. (http://www.aui.ma/en/international). You should feel free to contact the Washington office with any questions you may have leading up to your program.  For general questions you can email DocsEdabroad@amideast.org .

 

Will I have much contact with other American students during my stay?

There are approximately 20-40 foreign students who study abroad at AUI each semester and 4-10 students who participate in the Moroccan Arabic and Culture Program (pre-semester).

 

Will I have much interaction with local students through AMIDEAST?

Given that the student population at AUI is almost all Moroccan, you will have many opportunities to interact with local university students. The depth of your interaction though will be largely dependent on your initiative. During the Moroccan Arabic and Culture Program (pre-semester), your host family, including extended family members, will also provide you with many opportunities to interact with Moroccans.

 

Will I have access to a library?

Students are able to use the facilities of the library on Al Akhawayn University’s campus. The library currently has a collection of over 82,000 books in addition to over 355 national and international academic journals, magazines and newspapers. The library also provides access to a wide variety of electronic resources (full-text electronic books, electronic journals, etc.).

 

Will I be able to practice my religion freely?

There are churches of various denominations and synagogues in major Moroccan cities. There are Christian religious groups at AUI (mostly for faculty and staff) as well as a club that is interested in Moroccan Jewish culture.  As a visitor you are free to practice your religion, but proselytizing is a crime in Morocco.

 

Who is eligible to apply for an AMIDEAST Education Abroad Program?

Eligible applicants for AMIDEAST Programs

  • Are enrolled at an accredited college or university and have completed at least one year of post-secondary study.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale); however, applications will be considered holistically.
  • Are physically and emotionally prepared to spend one to eight months in Morocco (depending on the length of the program).
  • Are willing to adapt to a new, potentially challenging environment

What is the application process like? 

Students begin the application process on AMIDEAST’s online application system.  Students must submit a completed application online and the following additional documents to AMIDEAST headquarters in Washington, D.C:

  • Official Transcript(s) for all college(s) or university(ies) attended
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Study Abroad Advisor Form

After all documents are received, applications will be considered.  The Admissions Committee reviews each application individually and AMIDEAST staff inform students of their application status within two weeks of receipt of all supporting documents.

Applications for AMIDEAST Education Abroad Programs are accepted and considered on a rolling basis with the following deadlines: April 15th for fall programs, October 15th for spring semesters, and March15th for summer sessions. Despite the open nature of our application process, we urge you to complete your application as soon as possible in order to ensure space for you on your preferred program as our admissions are decided on a rolling basis.

 

Where can I connect with other potential and past AMIDEAST study abroad students?

In order to gain a better sense of our programs we encourage you to visit our Facebook page: Study Abroad in the Arab World and our blog; Mosaic

If you are interested in hearing first hand from students who have studied abroad with AMIDEAST previously, please email edabroad@amideast.org and we can put you in touch with some of those students.

 

TRAVEL:

What dates should I use to book my airline ticket?

You will be required to arrive and leave on specific dates so that AMIDEAST personnel can better serve all program participants. Students that arrive before their program begins are responsible for arranging and paying for their own transportation and lodging until their AMIDEAST program begins.  The same applies for students staying past the end of the AMIDEAST program. Please refer to the academic calendar in order to get a sense of the arrival and departure dates for each semester. Once accepted to the program, AMIDEAST staff will contact you with specific arrival and departure dates.

 

How can I book my ticket?

We have specific time frames for when you should arrive and depart from your host country. You will receive more information about flights after acceptance. Please do not buy tickets without first checking in with AMIDEAST staff in Washington D.C.

AMIDEAST students in past terms have booked flights directly through airlines, through local travel agents, or through discount booking websites such as Expedia or Orbitz. Students are welcome to choose which booking option is best for them.

Once you have booked your flight, please make sure to forward the complete itinerary to DocsEdAbroad@amideast.org. Make sure to include departure and arrival cities, flight numbers, and departure and arrival times for all segments of your journey.

 

Will I need a visa to enter the country?

If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need to obtain a visa before departing the U.S., but you will need to get a visa as soon as you arrive in Rabat. On arrival at customs you will be issued a 3-month tourist visa (a simple stamp in your passport). Therefore, you will only need to present a U.S. passport that is valid for at least 6 months from your departure from Morocco. If you do not already have a passport or your passport will expire before that date, please begin the process of applying for a new passport as soon as possible. Once in Morocco, AUI staff will assist you with renewing your visa.

If you are a dual national holding a U.S. passport, we strongly recommend that you use your American passport for entry into Morocco. Using your U.S. passport will assist AUI- staff with extending your 3-month visit permit stamp during the program.

Further information about this process is included in the student handbook you will receive prior to your departure. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you should contact the Moroccan embassy in your country of citizenship to inquire about visa requirements. AMIDEAST staff in Washington may be able to assist you if you encounter difficulties, but will need to know immediately if that is the case as sometimes it takes more than a month for an Egyptian visa to be issued from a consulate in the U.S.

 

 How will I get from the airport to the program?

An AMIDEAST staff member will be at the Rabat-Salé Airport or Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport holding an AMIDEAST sign to meet students arriving on the designated arrival day.  It is essential that you provide us with flight details so we know when you will arrive and on which airline. If you arrive before the designated arrival day, you are responsible for your own transportation and housing until the program begins.

 

Can my family visit me during the program?

AMIDEAST strongly discourages visits from family and friends during its programs and recommends that such visits be postponed until the end of the program. We have found that visits during our programs have the potential to have a negative impact on a student's experience. It is fairly common for friends and family to arrange visits once the program has finished. At the end of the program students have more time to spend with visitors and will be well accustomed to the country in which they are studying and able to serve as guides and cultural interpreters for their visiting family and friends.