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UCSC has partnered with IES Abroad for this program. IES Abroad is an International Education Organization based in the United States that works in partnership with hundreds of US University campuses to facilitate study abroad programs for thousands of students each year. IES has an incredible on-site staff team in Rabat, as well as a center where students will be taking their courses. The IES center is located in the airy, safe neighborhood of Hassan (near the famous 12th century Hassan Tower and the ancient ruins of Chellah) and just a short walk or taxi from the medina (the old part of the city). The IES center offers an outdoor patio, rooftop terrace, library, and computer facilities. When students arrive, they will receive an on-site orientation complete with health and safety information regarding living in Rabat. They will also have a guided walking tour of the city, and a welcome lunch with their homestay family. Next, students will go back to the IES center to have a welcome dinner with musical entertainment.  

Accommodations: While in Rabat, students will be living in homestay housing with local Moroccan families, located in the medina. There will be up to 2 students placed with each family. Students will have their own room, internet access, and be offered three meals a day by their host family.  

Meals: When students are staying with their homestay family, they will be offered 21 meals per week (3 per day, included in the program cost). When traveling on excursions some meals are included, and others are not. 

Accessibility: Please note that this class includes walking tours in museums and cities. Many Moroccan buildings and roads are limited in accessibility compared with US sites: some have only stairs rather than elevators and streets might include a mixture of pavement and cobblestone in some older parts. However, if students have particular accommodation needs and would like to participate in this program, please speak with the Study Abroad Advisor and Program Coordinator associated with this program to see if your needs can be met. Many accomodations can be worked out ahead of time with proper advance notice.

Study Abroad Advisory of Student Risk

Participation in this UCSC Study Abroad program requires travel to and extended living in a foreign location(s) abroad. UCSC Study Abroad endeavors to reduce and mitigate risk wherever possible. However, the environments and risks associated with living in these locations are substantially different than those found during a regular course of study at UC Santa Cruz. Any questions should be directed to the Program Coordinator.

About Rabat, Morocco

Morocco is situated in North Africa, across the Mediterranean Sea from Spain, and shares a border with Algeria on the east and the Western Sahara on the south. Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and rests on the shore of the Bouregreg River and the Atlantic Ocean. This city has Amazigh (Berber), Arab, Islamic, Jewish, and French-colonial heritage which influences the architecture, culture and languages of the area. The population of Rabat is around a half a million people covering 45.17 square miles. Rabat is an international and administrative hub for Morocco and has strong textile, food processing, construction, and tourism industries. The medina of Rabat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

As the nation’s capital, Rabat is a center for the arts in Morocco and includes many notable institutions such as the Mohammed V National Theatre, the National Library (or Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc), and the new Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Recent initiatives by the king of Morocco have included a sparkling clean and efficient tramway service and a new performing arts centre under construction by the famous architect Zaha Hadid. Rabat has also had an infusion of exciting street art on major buildings, most of them around the area of IES and our program. Every year, the city is the host of the Mawazine music festival at beautiful outdoor venues around the city. Mawazine attracts international, Moroccan, and African performers and begins the same day as we arrive in Rabat!

Rabat is also home to the Centre Cinématographique Marocain (CCM), the state’s national film center. The CCM is a centre for production and financial bureaucracy as well as a lab and editing facility, and many films are also held in the center’s archives.

Monetary unit: Moroccan Dirham

Languages Commonly Spoken: Moroccan Arabic, French, Tamazight, English

Government: Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy

Weather and Climate

Generally speaking the climate in Morocco can be described as Mediterranean. The air is cooled by the ocean breeze and as you travel further inland the temperatures become more extreme. In June the weather in Rabat typically ranges from 60 - 78 degrees F and in July from 64 - 82 degrees F. It is unlikely that it will rain during these months.

Research Your Destination

Research your destination: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/morocco

Students with Disabilities

If you need support services abroad, notify your UCSC Disability Resource Center (DRC) Coordinator for a needs assessment immediately so that services can be requested and Study Abroad can investigate the availability of accommodations abroad. Support services similar to those available at UCSC might not be available.

Identities Abroad and Away

UCSC Study Abroad encourages all students to consider studying abroad as a part of their academic plan. Our office is committed to inclusion and equity in our various program options as well as striving to make everyone’s experiences abroad enriching, positive, and safe. It is important to consider and anticipate the possible challenges you might face. For example, if your major identifying characteristic is race at home, it may surprise you that the people around you while you are abroad could find your nationality (perhaps US citizen) to be more significant. What rights do Queer people have in your host country? Will you be a minority or part of the majority abroad? Please visit our Identities Abroad and Away resource page to learn more about important questions to consider and how to prepare for studying abroad.

LGBTQIA+ Rights in Morocco
If you identify as LGBTQIA+, it is important to know that same sex activity is illegal in Morocco (for Moroccans) and can be met with anything from six month to three years imprisonment. While having a nonconforming gender presentation isn’t illegal, it has sometimes led to suspicions that a person is LGBTQ, and police have made arrests based on that suspicion. This law does not apply to non-Moroccan travelers, but it is important to understand what the LGBTIQIA+ climate currently looks like in this country. All couples should use discretion when traveling through the country and public displays of affection should generally be avoided regardless of sexual orientation. Of course, there are also gay and queer people in Morocco and while some laws about gender, sex, and the family are very conservative, there are many Moroccans mobilizing against them. For more information we recommend reading  “Gay Travel in Morocco: An Overview” by David Brown and “Travel Tips for Transgender, Genderqueer and Non-Binary Wanderlusters” by IGLTA that we recommend reading to learn more about these topics. Your faculty leader Peter Limbrick is also a very good resource since he has traveled often to the country and continues to work on queer and feminist themes in his research and teaching.

Traveling as a Female in Morocco
Female travelers in Morocco tend to receive a lot of attention and some of it may be unwelcome. Some aspects of Moroccan society are quite segregated with respect to gender, and many Moroccan men have few opportunities to meet women outside of their family prior to marriage; Western women are often thought of as more approachable since they’re not bound by the same conventions. Unwanted looks and comments can be wearying and sometimes worrying. This article,  “Women Travellers in Morocco” by Lonely Planet, explains more about what to expect and recommendations on how to avoid unwanted attention while traveling. Bear in mind that you will often be with your classmates, family, or friends, which will help you feel more empowered. The IES female staff will orient you on what to expect as a woman in Morocco. Your faculty leader Peter Limbrick is also a good resource.