Brittany Then - 2012 Program Participant

Brittany thoroughly enjoys learning about culture, language, history, and architecture, which has lead her to develop a worldly curiosity and love for travel. Even after participating in ISA’s program in Morocco, she hopes to see more of the world and all it has to offer, to become the best that she can be, after she completes her degree at Rowan University.

A Night in Marrakech.
A night in Marrakech. Photo credit to Teman Worku and Leila Jiwani

Why did you choose ISA? What attracted you to the program?

I chose ISA over other study abroad programs because not only was its website inviting and simple to navigate, but it provided tons of information concerning what to expect living in another country. Itineraries, course descriptions, even living conditions were specified. More importantly, ISA’s study abroad program in Morocco perfectly matched my interests in the Islamic religion and North African culture. The courses the program offered also focused on humanities, which was really convenient since I'm a sociology major.

You’re from Rowan University, what advice do you have for other Rowan students who are preparing to study abroad in Meknes?

My first advice to my fellow Rowan peers who want to study abroad is to stay in contact with the study abroad department! They are extremely supportive and are always there to help with anything concerning your trip (Shout out to Laura!).

Secondly, I strongly encourage anyone studying abroad to go with an OPEN MIND, and be understanding and aware of the place you're in. This is especially true living in Meknes, Morocco where the culture and traditions are very different than those in the States, being that Islam is heavily practiced by most of the population.

Why was Meknes the best place to study abroad in Morocco?

Meknes was the best place to study in Morocco because I was completely immersed in the culture. It's not a city with many tourists so I was really able to gain a better understanding of Moroccan life, which I really appreciated. This gave me the opportunity to interact with locals, furthering my knowledge and understanding of the culture.

I was also able to make many friends around town and school who made my experience abroad so welcoming and memorable. Being that Meknes was just a normal, small Moroccan city, I was able to practice my French and even managed to pick up a few Darija phrases (Morocco's colloquial Arabic). 

What was your favorite class you took during your study abroad program?

I loved all of the classes I took abroad at Moulay-Ismail. All of them focused on humanities which really interests me. The professors were very welcoming, interactive, and absolutely loved discussions.

My Moroccan Culture and History class  was one that I really looked forward to every Tuesday because Professor Yahya was such a character and passionate about the subject he taught. He also challenged me a bit with the work load and called me out in class to share my thoughts, because I was more reserved - with good intentions of course.

Another class I enjoyed was Islamic Society and Politics. I'm not exactly well versed in American politics, much less those of an Islamic state, so the class was very insightful and allowed me to see and analyze many social, political, and religious issues from a new perspective.

How have your experiences abroad impacted your day to day life and your future?

Studying abroad is one of those things that I will never forget. When I'm asked about a special, scary, or funny moment in my life, an experience in Morocco immediately flashes to mind. As cheesy as it sounds, I learned a great deal about another country and its culture, but I also learned a lot about myself. Being in a completely different surrounding with new people gave me a lot to think about, and I gained so much perspective. I also felt quite independent which was nice, but it was a different kind of independence - I was in a completely different surrounding than I was accustomed to, so expectations varied.

Being abroad also taught me that you shouldn't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Not only do you see and experience more this way, but situations that are out of your comfort zone also make for much better stories. I met amazing people abroad, both locals and those who participated in the same program who I can call some of my closest pals. My roommates especially were a huge part of what made living in Morocco so memorable. I learned so much abroad, especially the importance of having an open mind.