Morocco: Mark Salamone

Photo of Mark Salamone
Mark Salamone sheltering from the sun during a trip to the desert near Merzouga.

Program: UMN Arabic Language & Culture, Fall

Student’s Majors: History, English Literature

Academic Life: I took classes in Arabic, which were the bulk of my studies, and classes that focused on culture, history, and religion in Morocco. In our classes, the students and teachers had very close relationships – the teachers were very friendly and eager to help us enjoy our time in the country. However, don’t expect the classes to run like those you’d find in a Western university – there are some subjects that are not wise to talk about, and not everything is open to debate and evaluation.

Most Memorable Moments: The program organized some clubs that helped Moroccan and Western students hang out together and make friends. In my experience, the people I met were very friendly and educated, and this opportunity helped me learn a lot about Moroccan youth.

Advice for Someone Considering the Program: I would highly recommend the experience! Moroccans are very welcoming, especially when you can speak a few words of their language. But be warned – the country is extremely hot during the summer months.

New Perspectives: Learning about the political and cultural situation in Morocco helped me understand some of the problems America has right now. In addition, my experience has deepened my interest in working to support certain ideals and rights that aren’t present in Morocco – for all of the country’s strengths – such as secularism, freedom of expression, and democracy. I’ve returned to America having learned a lot, certainly, but I’m also refreshed and re-energized to continue my studies.

“The teachers were very friendly and eager to help us enjoy our time in the country.”