French and cultural immersion in Morocco

For Indiana University junior Mica Caine, studying abroad was a different experience than anything she could have expected. Caine, who is a Hudson & Holland Scholar—a program within IU’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA)—was already a fluent French speaker, so that part of her journey to Rabat, Morocco, last summer wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. But the cultural norms the Columbus, Ohio, native contended with opened her eyes to society’s differences in another part of the world.

“Morocco was incredible, but with Morocco being a Muslim country, I did experience a little bit of culture shock. It wasn’t much as I thought, but it’s definitely more of a modest country, so I did struggle a little bit with being true to myself, as well as being culturally compatible with my host family,” recounted Caine, an information systems and business analytics major at the Kelley School of Business and a French Arabic minor.

Caine had a preference of being with a family that had a daughter in the same age range, but instead was placed with a family consisting of five brothers, likely because the mother requested a female exchange student. Even with that unexpected development, Caine had a great time in Morocco.

“Every weekend, we traveled to different places around Morocco. Although I was studying in Rabat, I traveled abroad to Tangiers, Chefchaouen, Fes, Essaouira, and other cities,” said Caine, who was able to finish her minor in French while in Morocco.

“Also, we went to France in the middle of the program. I also participated in Ramadan for 10 days, fasting with my family. It was a great experience. I met a lot of cool people and I definitely want to go back.”

Do it, don’t be scared, and to a degree, definitely don’t listen to other people who haven’t been abroad. That can be the biggest hindrance, listening to all the concerns of your family and friends.