What to do with Morocco?

By: Tori

Read all about Tori’s experience in Morocco

Now what? I’ve lived independently abroad, taken a deep-dive into an ocean of unfamiliar culture, and gone through a few challenges that have shaped my world-view. So, now what? What can I do to highlight this experience? HOW do I highlight this experience?

It may seem like an impossible feat to narrow your study abroad experience down into a tangible, easy to comprehend package, but it actually isn’t that hard!

The first step is the hardest – and takes the most time, but is necessary in order to process your thoughts, feelings, etc.

You need to REFLECT on your experience.

Some questions that may be useful to help you reflect are:

  • What are the top three lessons you learned while abroad?
  • What surprised you most while abroad?
  • What was your favorite memory?
  • What was something that was hard, different, or challenging?

Once you have reflected on your overall experience, consider how study abroad grew your skills, leadership, and career-related attributes.

Consider specific examples from your time abroad in which you expanded upon these skills:

  • Assertiveness, adaptability, critical thinking skills, flexibility, independence or self-reliance, patience, open-mindedness, problem-solving, self-confidence, initiative, perseverance, and time management

Once you’ve done this, it’s easy to narrow down your experience by putting it on your resume. This is a great way to highlight your abroad experience in a quick, accessible way. For example, you can list the institution where you studied and a few courses or projects you worked on underneath your education section:

Study Abroad in Resume Education Section Example

The final step is to connect the dots by directly applying your study abroad experience to your potential career opportunities during an interview.

Q: What experience do you have working with people from backgrounds different than your own, and how do you think those experiences relate to the workplace?

Q: Can you tell me about a time you took a risk and it paid off?

These are two common questions individuals are asked during an interview that can relate to your study abroad experience. Make sure you find a way to talk about your study abroad and highlight it for others to see. Not only does this help you stand out as an applicant but it also helps others understand people and places who are different.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tori’s other posts

Meet Me in Morocco: Study Abroad Part 3

By: Tori

Editor’s note: You can check out the rest of Tori’s Morocco experience in previous posts.

The best part of my study abroad experience was the freedom to do something new and exciting every single day. Conducting research abroad did not require a set schedule, I was able to determine when and where I was going to be, which allowed me to have some pretty amazing adventures. This is a list of the top five things to do in Morocco. Now, I may be a bit biased, but I know there are definitely more than five “top” things to do in Morocco. But I hope this gives you a little insight into what Morocco is like!

Top Five Things to Do in Morocco!

Ride a camel in the Saharan Desert
Take a journey to Merzouga, which is right near the Algerian border and ride off into the desert at sunset for a “24-hour desert experience”. Watch the stars from atop the sand dunes, and listen to traditional Berber music while you feast on tajine and sip on mint tea. In the morning, get up early to watch the sunrise and ride the camels back to civilization. Although it’s a trek, it is well worth it!

People riding camels in Sahara Desert

Riding camels in the Sahara Desert.

2 young women sitting in the sand at the Sahara Desert

Tori & friend in the Sahara Desert

Essaouira/ Chefchaouen
Two of my favorite cities. If you are looking for a good mix of tourism and culture, these are the cities meant for you!

Essaouira is an artistic coastal city with many museums, small streets, and very difficult rug shop owners who will make you work to get your rug for the price you want. The fresh fish here is delicious and the city is very peaceful compared to other cities in Morocco.

Essaouriora ally

Essaouiora

Chefchaouen is a northern city, near the tip of Morocco. This city has a lot of Spanish influence as Spain in only 8 miles from the coast of Morocco! Chefchaouen is a famous hill-side city, hidden in the Rif mountains and painted completely blue. While in Chefchaouen you can visit Cascades d’Akchour, an area with many hiking trails that will take you back to fresh springs and waterfalls (if the season is right). Taking a dip here on a hot day is the most refreshing feeling.

City buildings overview - ChefChaouen Morocco

ChefChaouen

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Tori & friends at Akchour

Jemaa el-Fnaa
Jemaa el-Fnaa is the famous square in Marrakech. Marrakech is a Moroccan city known for its craziness. Within seconds of being in the square, motorbikes will speed past you, monkeys will be doing backflips, and people will be throwing snakes around your neck and saying “10 Dirham.” Although it sounds stressful and overwhelming, Marrakech shows you the “wild side” or Morocco. The square comes to life at night after the sun goes down and people retreat from their homes to enjoy each other’s company. It is safe to say Marrakech is entertainment central of Morocco.

Tour the Medina in Fez
Fez is the old city and is the second largest city in all of Morocco. Touring the Fez medina was my favorite “touristy” activity. We visited the weavery, tannery, and learned all about the history of the city. Fez is home to the oldest university in the world, amazing street food, and families who have lived within the walls of the medina for centuries. I could go on and on about this beautiful city, but I think pictures will do it more justice.

Man standing at weaving machine

Weavery in Fez

people working at a tannery

Tannery in Fez

Go Surfing/ Visit the Beaches
Morocco is a coastal country so you may as well take advantage of the water! Take a surfing lesson and get out of your comfort zone – try to stay up for more than 5 seconds (it’s a lot harder than it looks!). The beaches of Legzira are the perfect weekend getaway. With beautiful rocks and arches lining the shore, you can explore all day long!

Young woman walking on beach

Tori walking on the beach at Legzira

3 young women jumping at the beach

Tori & friends on the beach at Legzira

No matter what you choose to do in Morocco, I am sure you will find it to be exciting, challenging, and full of memories to last a lifetime! Throughout my travels, it made a big difference to stay in places with great views! Typically, accommodations in Morocco are much cheaper than in the US, so the “extra bucks” are worth it. If you ever find yourself in Spain over the years, hop over to Morocco. It’s a cheap flight and is well worth the trip! Hope you enjoyed learning all about Morocco!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Tori

Meet Me in Morocco: Study Abroad Part 2

By: Tori

This summer I embarked on a journey to conduct research abroad in Morocco! (You can read about Tori’s pre-trip excitement.) It was an amazing experience and I find myself missing bits and pieces of this mystical place every day. While my time two months abroad are hard to compress, I hope this list of the top five things I will miss about Morocco gives you a glimpse into the different culture this North African country has to offer.

Large group photo of students

Large group photo of students.

Our dear friends.
We arrived in Morocco with no pre-made plans on how we were going to get connected with fellow students. It was simply fate when we met with a student group called “Be Positive”, who are focused on learning about and connecting with other cultures. These people became our companions quickly and are who I spent the majority of the two months abroad with. This was, in my opinion, the best part of the trip. They traveled with us, took us to all the cool places in Agadir (where I lived in Morocco), and even invited us into their homes. We grew close with their family as we spent many Iftar meals with them. Iftar is the meal in which Muslims break fast during the month of Ramadan. Another major bonus was they lived right in our neighborhood! It was so easy to hangout and they taught us how to navigate the bus system (thankfully, otherwise we would have done WAY more walking than necessary).

Celebrating 4th of July with Moroccan friends

Celebrating 4th of July with Moroccan friends

Morocco friends of 4th of July

Morocco friends of 4th of July

The exchange rate.
All I can say is that I miss how easy Morocco was on my bank account. Although the flight over was fairly spendy, the exchange rate for Morocco is AMAZING. Moroccans use dirhams as their currency and 1 dirham is equivalent to $0.10. Each of my meals only cost roughly $2-$3. And a train ride clear across the country was only $15. It’s safe to say I’m going to miss those dirhams.

Msemen, Mint Tea, and Fresh OJ
These were by FAR my favorite treats in Morocco. Msemen is a Moroccan crepe- it’s a lot like lefse but a little thicker. It is a popular item at breakfast as it is served with jam, honey, and amlou – which is a lot like almond butter but mixed with argan oil. Along with Msemen, they also serve mint tea and fresh OJ. Mint tea is nicknamed “Moroccan whiskey” because they serve it in teeny-tiny glasses all day long. The fresh OJ always quenched my thirst – I had never had such delicious juice before!

Msemen & OJ

Msemen & OJ

Pouring Mint Tea

Pouring Mint Tea

The present-day mindset
Americans tend to always be on the go; multi-tasking, getting as much done ahead of time as possible, etc. It is the total opposite in Morocco. As a developing country, they tend to worry simply about what is in front of them and have comfort in knowing they cannot control the future. They truly carry the “Don’t worry, Be happy” mindset throughout their everyday life. While this was hard to adjust to at first, I miss this part of their culture – especially now during midterm season.

Souk Shopping
In Morocco, there aren’t many grocery stores. Instead, they shop in areas called souks. Souks are within the medina walls and have tight walkways filled with a variety of items to buy. On your left there can be fruits and vegetables, chicken, dates, etc. and on your right, someone can be selling sandals, pants, rugs, and paintings. You can buy EVERYTHING in the souk, which is nice and convenient. Another interesting thing about the souk is the haggling. In Morocco, you are allowed to bargain on a price with the shopkeeper. At first, this was nerve-racking. I didn’t know the language or understand what a good price was, but after a short while I was hooked (more like addicted) on haggling with those in the souk. I still go to Target today and have the desire to bargain for a better price on a scarf. Sometimes the shopkeepers will even let you have a better deal “just because you are beautiful”, haha!

Souk - Moroccan market

Souk

Souk - Moroccan market

Souk

Stay tuned for the next blog on Top Five Things to Do in Morocco!!

Read Tori’s other posts

Photo source: Tori

Meet Me in Morocco: Study Abroad Part 1

By: Tori

Bonjour! مرحبا! Hola!…

Hello! And welcome to my study abroad journey. This summer I am headed to the North African country, Morocco (whoo hoo)!

Tori Morocco

Through the UMN program SPAN (Student Projects For Amity Among Nations), I have the opportunity to spend 8 weeks traveling, researching, and immersing myself in the culture of Morocco. Approximately 30 UMD students will be joining me on this journey and taking on a project equal to an Honors thesis. It will be no easy task, in fact, it is quite stressful, but I am stoked to see where these next four months take me.

You may be asking; HOW did I choose this program? And WHY study abroad? Well, let me tell you!

Tori Quote

Coming into college I knew I wanted to take full advantage of what UMD has to offer, including their numerous opportunities to study abroad. However, as I became more involved on campus I realized the deep desire that I had to experience something completely different. I wanted to be introduced to new perspectives.

Morocco is not your typical study abroad destination, which is the sole reason when I found out about the program I said, “Heck yes, sign me up!”. It is opposite of the typical comfort zone I find myself in. Instead of going to an English-speaking, mountain encompassing country – I’m heading to the desert, where my Norwegian skin may fry and my lack of French and Arabic skills will be exposed. Morocco is a country of major diversity and my entire time abroad I will be a part of the minority for the first time in my life.

Meet in Morocco

There is a difference between simply spending time abroad and completely immersing yourself in another culture. Going abroad helps students gain awareness of other cultures and learn to accept people for who they are. Studying abroad even pertains to students future careers. As a young person entering the business world, I have the advantage to use my experiences to affect those around me. And as a Human Resources major, I will be connecting business and people my entire life. There is no better way to be exposed to diversity and become more self-aware than to take a leap of faith and go abroad.

To say I am excited to embark on this journey would be an understatement. I am ecstatic to come back to campus and share what I have learned with my peers, advisors, co-workers, professors, and faculty. Would you like to hear how Morocco changes me and “Meet in Morocco”?

Read Tori’s other posts

Photo sources: Tori; Unsplash | Florian Bernhardt; Unsplash | Sergey Pesterev

How to be a Good Traveler

By: Willow

I had an awesome Spring Break this year. (Yes, I know I’m bragging a bit but I promise I have a point.) I was fortunate enough to be able to visit a family friend in Switzerland and do a little traveling around Europe. I learned a lot on my spring break, and I think this information could be useful if you happen to go on a sweet trip someday.

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I know what you’re thinking, “But Willow, the Peer Into Your Career blog is about helping me with my career, jetting across the world isn’t going to do that is it?” Well, yes and no. While the act of going on a fancy trip itself will probably not advance your career, it is possible that you will find yourself in situations where your actions traveling help or hurt your future. Here are a few tips that will help you make put your best foot forward no matter where you are.

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Learn a little bit of the language. I know this sounds like a given but it’s easy to get by without doing it. In Switzerland everyone speaks English, they teach German, French, and English in schools so literally everyone has a basic knowledge of English. Not only does everyone know at least some English, my hostess is getting her masters in English. I figured I would be fine as I would always be with someone fluent in English and German, so I would always have a translator. This was true, but it got really old. One night, we went to an event where a British author talked about her books. When the author introduced herself she thanked the crowd saying how much of a privilege it was to speak in her native language to this particular audience. The speech was in English and all of my host’s friends spoke English. I had no problem talking to the people around me the entire night. While I was standing with the circle of new friends, I realized they were all speaking English for my benefit. I was the only one who didn’t speak any German, and they were all adjusting for me. And that made me feel like crap. How did I go to a new country and not learn any of the language? How ignorant am I? Ugh! The mix of the speaker acknowledging her privilege and me realizing everyone was speaking a language for my benefit hit me hard. I felt bad, really really bad. If you ever do go somewhere where you don’t know the native language, learn a few key phrases, it will go a long way. People notice when you make an effort, and it will mean a lot to them. If possible find someone who knows the language and can help you practice a bit. Or find a friend and learn together. There are a lot of great resources you can use: YouTube videos, books, or language learning apps. Once again, knowing a little bit of the language goes a long way.

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Willow with British author Laura Penny.

Figure out what the driving laws are. Maybe you won’t be driving at all and you think you don’t need to do this. YOU DO. You interact with cars all the time, even if you’re not in one. so you need to figure out the basics such as: what side of the road to they drive on, what are the pedestrian laws, and how their stop lights work. These all could be different depending on where you are.

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Know the phone number and address of the place you are staying. Again, this one seems simple, but don’t forget. If you do you will get really confused and cry in front of the lost and found baggage lady in the Zurich airport. Uh… At least that’s what I’ve heard…

Always say thank you, preferably in the language spoken where you are. Whenever you go into a store, ask someone a question, talk to anyone at all for any reason, say thank you. It’s just a best practice.

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Finally, make as many connections and learn as much as you can. Traveling is an amazing thing to do and honestly a great way to change your life. You never know who you may meet. Keep these guidelines in mind and they might help you get a job, or make a new friend, or just have a great time.

One last reminder, in all your travels, be safe and have fun.

Read Willow’s other posts

Photo source: Willow

Study Abroad Takeaways

By: Cassie

Hi everyone! So if you’ve read my posts before you know that this past summer I decided to study abroad in Ireland. The trip I went on was focused on innovation and how businesses differ between the US and Ireland. Through this trip I got to see amazing things, meet amazing people (like the CEO of the largest hospital in Ireland), and I also learned a lot of things about myself along the way. Going on this trip was a really eye opening and great experience for me. Today I’m going to sum up some takeaways in a few points.

Cork University Hospital

It was challenging
The general consensus on studying abroad is that you will take easy classes and just be able to have fun. Well, you are definitely able to have lots of fun, BUT you cannot forget the importance of doing your work. My class was challenging and really pushed me to think outside of what I normally would do. This ultimately made it a more rewarding trip for me and I got a lot of education out of it. It was not only academically challenging- it was challenging just being in another country! Figuring out how to get around, the currency, and even deciding what to eat was all a new and different experience that made me push myself.

Cassie in Ireland

I made a lot of friends and connections
I met a lot of new people by going on this trip and made a lot of friends that I know will last a lifetime. We visited several companies and we met a lot of people who were doing influential and innovative things. We met heads of companies and we got to see how Irish business works. I also made good connections with people like Tony McNamara, who is the CEO of Cork University Hospital. This hospital is coincidentally the largest hospital and most innovative hospital in Ireland. The meeting was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever had to do, and it was also one of the most rewarding. By making these connections I now have a larger network and I have been introduced to so many more opportunities, which has been really great.

I saw amazing things
Every day of my trip was jam packed with a ton of things to see. We went all over the country and saw historical landmarks, scenery, and even contemporary cities. It was incredible to take in all the new sights, scenes, and surroundings that Ireland had to offer.

Busy street in Ireland

I learned so much
By going on this trip, I didn’t just learn about Ireland. I learned about the people around me, whether they were business professionals or my peers. I learned that I could be a part of the business place. I learned that I am capable of so many things and all I have to do is try them. Overall, studying abroad was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone because of all the great things you can get out of it!

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Photos by: Cassie

Why Should I Study Abroad?

By: Cassie

You know those things that you know you are always meant to do? The goal that you feel a huge drive towards and you are willing to do anything and everything to accomplish it. Well for me, that has always been traveling the world. I want to see everything, experience everything, and go everywhere. Well, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well how do you plan to do that when you’re a poor college student and you know you have student loans to pay off after you graduate?” I have asked myself this exact same question. Then the realization dawned on me; study abroad is there for people who are experiencing the exact same feelings as me. You might be thinking, “I don’t know if study abroad is right for me”, and I am here to tell you all the reasons you should at least consider it as a part of your college experience.

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The first reason that you should consider study abroad is that it is SO flexible. There are so many different programs; you can pretty much go anywhere in the world. If UMD doesn’t have a program that you want to go on, don’t worry! They can find an affiliate program that will work with you so you can go wherever you want to go. You can also go any time of year. You can take May terms, J terms, semester long programs, or you can even go the whole year. The study abroad office is absolutely willing to work with you through every step of the way so you can make the best decision for you.

Another reason you should consider study abroad is, why not now? College is the time in your life when you are supposed to be able to take risks and experience new things. Once you get out into the real world you aren’t going to get very much time to vacation (especially right away as an entry level employee) so now is a great time. Another great reason is that when you study abroad, your whole trip, or a majority of it, is planned for you. It is much easier to travel with the help of experienced professionals than try and plan it on your own.

Finally not only is study abroad fun and exciting, but for practical reasons, it looks great on a resume! By putting study abroad on a resume you are telling employers that you are willing to put yourself out there and try new things. It also shows employers that you are willing to go international and are able to market yourself that way which is so valuable!

This May I am traveling with the Innovation in Ireland program. This is an entrepreneurship and innovation course that is offered through the business school. It is a three-week program where I will be traveling all around Ireland and I get to see all the sights while also enhancing my college experience and gaining knowledge. I chose this program because as Health Care Management major I don’t have a lot of flexibility in my schedule and this was a course that fit into my course requirements. It also is great because it is only three-weeks and I don’t know if I could go abroad for any longer than that. We are traveling in a big group as well, which was an added bonus for me because I don’t think I would be able to go abroad on my own. This has added a lot of work on my plate for this semester, and I know in the end it will all be completely worth it.

For all these reasons I think that if you haven’t at looked into study abroad, you really should. It is a lot of work and there are a lot of things to consider, but there are so many people who are here to help you through the steps. All you need to do is take the first step and look on the study abroad website to get some ideas. It never hurts to look, and you never know you could find something you like and change your life!

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