Morocco & Spain Semester
Morocco & Spain
Community. Service. Connection
Embark on a journey into the incredible cultural and environmental diversity of Morocco and Spain. Our itinerary combines cross-cultural exploration with Arabic study, urban and rural homestays, inquiry into human migration and climate change, innovative environmental practices, and the historical and complex relationship between North Africa and Europe.
Immerse yourself in Morocco for roughly eight weeks; study the Arabic language and practice your language skills while enjoying the myriad sights, smells, and sounds of the labyrinthine medinas (marketplace). Discover the cultural diversity that Morocco exhibits by staying in an Amizgah community. Explore your creative side while studying with a local artisan. Develop a more informed perspective on Islam and the Muslim world; engage with NGOs focusing on such significant topics as women’s rights, human rights for migrant populations and climate refugees, and youth empowerment. Work alongside communities that are actively addressing climate change.
Venture North toward the Strait of Gibraltar, an infinitesimal water crossing with massive political implications. While only a 35-minute ferry ride separates Morocco from Spain, the passage represents a significant challenge to ideas of human rights, migration patterns/human movement, and border security. The group will ferry across the Strait and arrive in Southern Spain, beginning the journey of discovering how these cultures have influenced each other over centuries of human movement in both directions.
Spend four weeks in Spain, where you’ll engage with an NGO that is working to help alleviate the difficulties faced by Sub-Saharan and North African migrants. Visit the architecturally stunning cities of Cordoba and Granada and see how influential Northern African cultures have been throughout Spain’s history at the Unesco World Heritage sites of Mesquita Cathedral and the Alhambra. Round out this journey with your own migration, spending several days walking the Camino del Santiago. You’ll take this time for meditative walks through pastoral landscapes and conversations with “pilgrims” from various regions of the world, while reflecting upon your experiences as an individual, as a group, and as an integral part of the greater human collective.
- The first three days of your semester will be spent in a comfy backpacker retreat where you’ll learn more about the program, your traveling companions, as well as strategies for staying safe and healthy while traveling. You’ll also set intentions for the semester ahead as a cohesive cohort.
- Strengthen your language skills by immersing yourself in three weeks of language study. You will be studying the local dialect of Arabic (not standard), which is a primary language for millions of North African peoples. A homestay placement provides an incredible opportunity to deepen and hone your language skills.
STUDENT DIRECTED TRAVEL
- This is the time for you to choose your own adventure! You will be asked, in collaboration with your group, to take ownership of the direction, processes, and budgeting of your travels and activities utilizing the skills you’ve gained in the previous weeks.
Choose from a plethora of unique travel destinations in Morocco; from rugged mountains to picturesque white sand beaches to the endless dunes of the Sahara. The only requirement is to make your way to Northern Morocco by a prescribed date—and get ready to make the Strait of Gibraltarcrossing into Spain!
COMMUNITY BASED VOLUNTEERING
- Your group will engage in a multitude of service and volunteering initiatives throughout this program. Work with NGOs that focus on women’s rights and empowerment, early childhood education, and human rights as they relate to migration and the concept of “citizenship.” Prepare to work alongside NGOs that are helping to build infrastructure for more remote areas of Morocco, or are helping to promote concepts of sustainability through organic farming, permaculture, and/or other environmentally progressive practices.
Spend a week living with a host family in Marrakesh, exploring one of the Muslim world’s “great citadel cities.” Practice your newly-developed language skills while joining the family for meals, cultural events, and outings. Marrakesh blends the look and feel of old world architecture and artisanry with a decidedly worldly and modern city.
Another week will be spent in a village homestay with the Amizgah community. Get a greater sense of village life by working alongside your host families and villagers on a local project (to be determined in accordance with current village needs). Options may include working with local schools, building playgrounds/sports fields, organizing trash clean-ups, and participating in agricultural chores.
Enjoy a four-day trek in the high Atlas mountains, reveling in the sparse beauty of this legendary range. Be inspired by your guide, who happens to be one of Morocco’s first certified female mountain guide. Ride your newfound friend (a camel) out onto the dunes of the Sahara Desert, surrounded by the vastness of this inhospitable, yet undeniably breathtaking, place. Share stories as you sit by the fire at night, gazing at the stars and reflecting on your experiences.
- Our reflection “retreat” embodies the spirit of human migration and movement, as well as the spiritual concept of “pilgrimage.” The group will spend five days walking the Camino del Santiago, a historic route for pilgrims since the medieval ages. There will be much to reflect upon as the finale of this amazing semester comes to a close!
Accepting Applications For:
Fall 2018, Spring 2019
FALL 2018 September 12 – December 5*
SPRING 2019 February 13 – May 7*
*Dates may fluctuate depending on flight times and availability.
Not sure what to do after your semester? Check out our Latitudes program to do a focused volunteer placement for your second semester! CLICK HERE
A maximum of 12 Students & 2 Overseas Educators
Ages 17 and Up
COLLEGE CREDIT & FINANCIAL AID
Earn up to 18 credits through our partnership with Portland State University.
Learn more on our College Credit page.
Carpe Diem students can access Financial Aid.
Learn more on our Financial Aid page.
Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, scheduled program activities, and international travel insurance for the duration of the program. International airfare and spending money are extra. International airfare estimated at $1500 – $1700.