Introducing Spring 2018 Blog Correspondent: Rowan Ibrahim
My room looks like a piñata full of clothes just burst inside it. I leave for Rabat in two days, but articles of clothing can literally be found in every open space and crevice of my bedroom. Let me just say that packing your entire life for 4 months into one suitcase is easier said than done. At work yesterday, everyone joked that I was taking the most extreme measure to staying warm during our uncharacteristically frigid weather. Little did they know that I would be spending a lot of my time in Ifrane, a town located in Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains, known for its alpine-style architecture and nearby ski slopes…in other words there’s SNOW (and a lot of it). It is also home to Al Akhawayn University (AUI), an independent, public, not-for-profit university that I will soon call home for the next 4ish months.
I know I should probably continue packing, but I’m taking a little break to write this blog post instead since I cannot contain my excitement. This is my first time studying abroad and leaving the country in general, so this is a big step for me. Everybody keeps asking me if I’m nervous, but for some reason I’m not. I’m just excited. I think it’s because this decision has been a long time coming. Growing up watching Mary-Kate and Ashley movies, I thought that college itself was just 4 years of traveling the world as a little kid. Boy, was I in for a big surprise.
Now that you know the extent of my gullibility, you also probably know that I am bound to get myself into some very interesting situations once abroad. But before I share my inevitably embarrassing mishaps with you, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Rowan Ibrahim and I am a proud Virginian, who now calls Baltimore, Maryland home (go Ravens!). Yes, I am one of those snobs who’s lucky to live close enough to the capital that all my grade school field trips took place there. No, I still haven’t been to the National Cherry Blossom Festival- scandalous, I know.
I’m a senior at Johns Hopkins University majoring in International Studies with a focus in the Middle East and Security, so deciding to study abroad in the Arab World was a no-brainer. Learning about Morocco through AMIDEAST was a serendipitous occurrence to be quite honest. I had initially planned to study abroad in Egypt, but due to the country’s sudden bursts of political unrest, my plans to study there got rejected by my school at the last minute due to valid safety concerns. This left me scrambling to find a different program in a different country and that’s when I fell upon Morocco. Morocco is absolutely beautiful and I find it interesting for its rich ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity – an aspect that is unique and should be prized for a relatively small country. Coming from an ethnically, linguistically, and culturally diverse household myself, I can appreciate this. My dad is Eritrean and my mom is from Saudi Arabia. Reconciling these two halves of me has become such a huge part of my identity and I am thankful for it as I believe it’s offered me a perspective on life that maybe some others do not have.
During my time at AUI, I hope to meet people of all different types from all over Morocco and learn more about their history, language, and culture. And hopefully taste their food—I’m very excited about the food. I actually cannot wait.
Alright, I think that’s enough day dreaming for one day. If I can get my life together by getting this suitcase packed, then I won’t have to dream any longer. I really hope I can get this done today. All prayers and good vibes are welcome. Next time, from Rabat (hopefully)!