I am Katja Kivivainio and I spent a semester in Morocco in The University of Al Akhawayn in Ifrane, which is an American style university in Morocco. I was originally planning to go to Germany or South-Korea…However, life works in mysterious ways and I ended up to Morocco, and this turned out to be one of my best decisions ever. So here are 9 reasons why spending a semester in Morocco was an amazing experience and why I would recommend it.
- New culture
Living in different continent has been an amazing opportunity to see how life in a totally different country. As you might know Morocco is a developing country which main religion is Islam. People are similar and different. There are great night clubs (although selling alcohol to Muslims is banned), but also getting married is one of the most important goals of young people.
Moroccans are very friendly and hospitable. You are more than likely to be invited to a Moroccan family for dinner and of course you will also get a lot of new friends, both local and international.
- Traveling and New Experiences
Morocco is full of amazing cities and places. You can go surfing on the coast or go camel riding in Sahara or even visit ruins of ancient Roman city (as I have been doing), and all of this is very affordable.
Eating out, travelling and shopping are way cheaper than in Europe. Great meal in a restaurant is somewhere between 3 to 5 euro. Also using taxis is very affordable, about 3 km taxi ride is approximately 1,20 euro.
Taginies, couscous, traditional mint tea, harschas…there is something for everyone. So, if you like good food and new tastes I can recommend Morocco. But no worries if you are more into pizza and pasta those are available everywhere too.
Morocco is famous for its Argan oil products, leather goods, carpets and silver. Leather products are cheap, e.g. you can easily get a leather belt for 7 euro, and are made by local artisans. Also in bigger cities, you can find huge malls with all the European and American brands, but also some Moroccan brands, such as Marwa. Also, the mall is Casablanca is biggest one in North Africa and includes amusement park and two story high aquarium. Even if you are not into shopping that place is impressive.
Morocco is quite safe and not overly conservative, although it is Arab Muslim country in Africa. Everywhere you go you can see soldiers and police officers with guns. Also Moroccan grandmas keep the young men and children under the control so for a foreigner this is one of the safest countries in the region. Also, Morocco is politically stable so there is no huge threat of revolution or coups.
You have an unique opportunity to study Africa and Middle-Eastern and their politics as also learn new things about Islamic culture. Which broadens your worldview but also may give you an advantage if you consider having an international career. You may also study Arabic or French and use them in everyday life.
Even in December you can still go sunbathing and swimming. So, while it is snowing in Finland the sun is shining in Morocco. Although, in the Mountains you may get some snow.
But is there anything I did not like?
Yes, Morocco is still a developing country and there is a lot of inequality and poverty. Also, always having to hackle about whatever you are buying, excluding shopping in a mall, can be tiring. It also must be noted that food hygiene is not always as good as in Finland.