Europe & North Africa gap semester:
Spain & Morocco
Human Migration and Language Study
Spain & Morocco
How will you Carpe Diem?
Spain and Morocco: a cultural, geographic, and historical gateway that has been an epicenter of human activity and migration for millennia. Clearly visible from either side of the Strait of Gibraltar, these lands are distinct in their cultural identities, yet undeniably linked in their shared history, geographical proximity, and as the primary corridor between Europe and North Africa.
From the soaring High Atlas Mountains to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Marrakech medina; from the legendary Strait of Gibraltar to the verdant pastoral landscapes of the Camino de Santiago, Carpe Diem Education provides an opportunity to study human migration and cultural preservation, in the midst of some of the most fascinating regions in the world.
- Explore the unique culture of Andalusia, Spain, and discover the complexities of migrant populations, human movement, and immigration enforcement in this region.
- Study Moroccan Arabic and practice your language skills while living with host families and navigating labyrinthine souks and medinas (marketplaces).
- Engage with local NGO’s that focus on women’s empowerment, youth mobilization, and human rights for migrant populations.
- Trek in the High Atlas mountain range while visiting indigenous Amazigh communities.
- Reflect upon your experiences by walking a segment of the Camino de Santiago.
Steeped in tradition, the Andalusian region of Spain boasts a unique culture unto itself. Under Moorish rule for nearly 8 centuries, the influence of the Arab world is seen in tradition, cuisine, culture, and architecture. Yet this is not only a historical reality. Even today, there are North African communities, markets, and sectors that are thriving in the cities of Granada, Málaga, and Córdoba, and throughout the Iberian peninsula.
What are the underlying realities of these communities? How have North African migrants been welcomed into Andalusian society? What is their legal status? Why do North and Sub Saharan African migrants, past and present, feel compelled to make the dangerous sea crossing in order to find a new life in Spain? We’ll explore these questions as we engage with organizations that are working to address issues related to immigration and human rights.
Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar by boat, we’ll go through the land border of Ceuta (a small Spanish enclave). Welcome to Morocco!
Diving into the Moroccan experience, we live with host families while studying Moroccan Arabic (Darija). We’ll discover the tremendous hospitality of Muslim cultures, and the inner workings of family and social life. We’ll practice our Arabic while exploring the immense souks and medina of Marrakech. A world unto themselves, they pulse with a rhythm that has spanned centuries of activity; they are truly the heart of Moroccan culture, and where we witness the interplay of people, place, and culture. We partner with local NGO’s that are working to promote women’s empowerment and youth mobilization initiatives and discover their successes as well as the socio-cultural obstacles that these progressive movements still face.
Carpe Diem Education’s Spain/Morocco semester provides an opportunity to discover a unique region of the world, and to attain deeper insight into complex issues of human migration, the meeting of trans-continental cultures, and the geopolitical realities of North Africa and Europe. Click below for a detailed sample itinerary.
Accepting Applications For:
These kinds of trips have the potential to change the way you see the world, and at the very least you'll have more than a few great stories to tell.
There is no better way to learn about the world than by doing so while learning more about yourself. Grow, learn, experience, travel.
I know that the skills I learned and the experiences I had will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I feel better equipped to take on the scary and uncertain world knowing that I have a strong grasp on myself, my passions, and my values.
Seize Your Journey
- 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 (Moroccan Arabic), 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 Gibraltar crossing into Spain!
COMMUNITY BASED SERVICE LEARNING
- 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 a village south of Marrakech. Practice your newly-developed language skills while joining the family for meals, cultural events, and outings.
Other village homestays include living with the Amazigh community and staying with families in Tetouan, a World Heritage site. 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 guides.
- 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!
The Student Experience
Explore the following links to learn about the Carpe Diem Spain & Morocco student experience.