The Flagship Summer 2012 program this year was hosted in Meknes, Morocco, the cultural center of the unique Kingdom of Morocco. The trip was extremely beneficial to me in more ways than one. First, it greatly increased my capacity in reading, writing, and conversing in the Arabic Language, through intensive study under some of the best Arabic teachers in the field. More than that however, living abroad in Morocco increased my cultural understanding of the Arab people and broadened my global viewpoint on the world.
A typical day in Morocco isn't at all like a typical day at the workplace or at school in the United States, because there is always something else going on. Class was about the most routine activity, running from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, however, even that changed during the month of Ramadan. You have to expect the unexpected in Morocco, as a "typical" day can include anything from escaping wild dogs to 3:00 AM dinner parties to sipping mint tea overlooking the beautiful Straight of Gibraltar.
The host families in Morocco were incredibly generous, and my specific host family took us to several cities in Morocco, including the favorite beach location of Tanger and the wild forests of Ifrane. Moroccan home-cooked food was equally incredible, and you can expect lamb, chicken, and fish plates, with lots of fruit and even more bread (there's no shortage of crepes, panini's, and french baguettes in Morocco!)
After school, many students would spend their time going to one of the different restaurants or shops in Morocco for a bite to eat or some freshly squeezed juice (orange-peach was the best), and there was also a couple of reasonably priced gym's in the city. Exploring the "Souq" was another favorite for the students, but when the weekends came, traveling around Morocco was the most fun. My favorite city was Azrou, where you could hike around the mountainous forest in fresh, crisp air, and even feed the wild monkey inhabitants! Of course, this was all in addition to the daily language studies.
The culture of Morocco is definitely another great aspect to the overseas Flagship component. Studying a language at a US institution is completely different from immersing yourself in that language for 2 months, and myself along with all of the other students learned that fact pretty quickly. Overall I learned that there is so much more to discover in traveling abroad, and in order to fully understand that, you must experience it yourself!