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There are precious few places in the world that are as shrouded in mystery and magic as Morocco. Indeed, from Rick's Café American, the watering hole run by the Humphrey Bogart character in Casablanca, to the popular western image of Morocco as a country straddling the timelessness of the desert and the complications of modernity, Morocco is surely one of the most alluring, fascinating countries in the entire world. So just imagine how exciting and transformative it would be to live there while attending four years of college.
Surprisingly, Morocco is located a mere hop, skip, and jump across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain. It is, however, an entire world away. Indeed, Morocco is home to one of the most fascinating cultures in the world, and both its history and its present are nothing short of captivating. 'The almost medieval-like hustle and bustle of Morocco is for most travelers a world away from their own cities and towns. The culture and people are usually so completely different from what they know that they often find themselves in situations to which they have no idea how to react...In general, [though], Moroccan culture can be an exciting and worldly experience. The people are friendly and the place is colorful. Hospitality is really a part of their culture so you can strike up friendships virtually anywhere if you have the right attitude. Usually, this results in further association with these dynamic and interesting people and a real taste of Moroccan life.'
The history of Morocco goes back thousands of years: It 'has been inhabited since Neolithic times, at least 8000 BCE...[Later, during the time of the Roman empire,] North Africa and Morocco were slowly drawn into the wider emerging Mediterranean world by Phoenician trading colonies and settlements in the late Classical period. The arrival of Phoenicians heralded a long engagement with the wider Mediterranean, as this strategic region formed part of the Roman Empire.' It wasn't until the 7th Century of the modern era that Morocco as we know it today, as an Islamic state, was officially formed. Of course, this wasn't the end of Moroccan development and change, as over the course of the centuries, many countries tried very hard to control Morocco, most notably France, which considered Morocco part of its official sphere of influence until Moroccan independence finally came in 1956.
Today, Morocco is one of the more stable countries in the region, and is governed by a 'constitutional monarchy, with a popularly-elected parliament. The King of Morocco, with vast executive powers, can dissolve government and deploy the military, among other responsibilities. Opposition political parties are legal and several have arisen in recent years.' This, of course, is a very good thing for both the Moroccans themselves as well as for those who visit or live there temporarily, such as students.
There are many advantages to studying full-time in Morocco, especially these days when an understanding of the Muslim world is so important to American foreign policy. Indeed, even if you choose to study a subject that is not directly related to the history or culture of Morocco, the mere fact that you are living there, absorbing the culture and hearing the Arabic language, will be of great help to you as you move forward later in life.
Studying in Morocco will certainly change your life. It will open your eyes to a way of existing that will likely seem completely different to you, it will expand your intellectual horizons, and it will make you a more complete cultural and intellectual person. And that's what college is supposed to be all about.
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