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Zwina is one of the most beautiful (ha) words in the Arabic language, in part because it can describe literally everything – the food is zwina, the weather’s zwina, this class is zwina. The idea of food being beautiful or tasting beautiful is a strange expression in English, but is common and complimentary in Darija. In Rabat, Morocco, the world is zwina – the people, the ancient city, the cafés on the corners and morning call to prayer. The weather is a sunny 75 degrees, and coastal breeze blows in each evening from the sea. The Kingdom of Morocco is zwina.

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When I was applying to IES Rabat study abroad program, I struggled with the question of whether or not to stay with a host family so much that I submitted my housing application two weeks late. I had heard good things about homestays from friends who had studied abroad, but was worried about the awkward interactions that the language barrier would create, worried that I might lose all the independence I had gained when I moved to college after high school. Others warned me that I was moving to a dangerous country in which the culture was too different from my own for me to function within the confines of a foreign family unit. It would be more comfortable for me to live with other Americans in a condo in the city.

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Phil’s Day 2015 is a day to celebrate philanthropy and the impact it has on the University of Iowa. These are just a few of the many UI students who were able to study or conduct research abroad in the past year, gaining invaluable experiences and memories that enhanced their education and lives, thanks to the generosity of private donors. Read on to learn about their unique adventures and projects.

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On "castle rock" in the Bay of Biscay, as I bit into a sort of hand-held omelet, I wondered: who invented this ingenious snack? I mean, who in history was the one to discover that you could even eat an egg, not to mention fry it with potatoes and onions into a graspable food item. The true genius of it struck me because Josu, my hiking companion, had prepared this himself and though I had eaten this same thing in nearly every restaurant in my neighborhood, there was something notable about this one.

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One of the most significant aspects of studying abroad is seeing everything you possibly can, while learning and growing every step of the way. After getting settled into my new life at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, I was quickly ready to get out there and begin seeing all the things I had spent months pinning on Pinterest. After all, my parents were beginning to wonder what exactly I was getting out of spending day after day at the beach.

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45 years ago, Ali Soliman arrived at the Iowa City Bus Depot with one suitcase that contained everything he owned. Dr. Soliman, currently Chairman of the United Nations' Association of International Civil Servants, sent us these reflections of his life as a graduate student in economics in Iowa City in the early 1970s.

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In Morocco, they take it easy. As soon as my plane lands in Rabat, I can feel the change. The other passengers do not push against each other to stand in the aisle. They take their time gathering backpacks and briefcases from the overhead compartments. My flight is late, but that’s no problem. IES Abroad’s driver is just arriving to take me to the Center, where the other students are. I don’t know much Darija (the local dialect) yet, and he doesn’t know English. We smile at each other. It’s not uncomfortable.

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I have been at the University of Newcastle, in New South Wales, Australia for nearly three weeks already, and yet I continue to wake up most mornings in awe that this is actually my life. I prepared for this journey for quite some time; making and saving money, meeting deadlines for paperwork, and doing lots of research. To finally be here, literally on the other side of the world, can at times be hard to grasp.

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On my third day in Spain, I learned about the expert pickpockets of Madrid. It wasn’t simply through Ibon’s sound advice to get a money belt or to sling packs in front of our bodies where we could see them. No, I had to learn the hard way. I’m blaming it on the fact that I’m from a town where we don’t even lock our bikes. I implicitly trust everybody. However, belief rarely lines up with reality and in less than a week abroad I found myself wallet-free. Still, I’m optimistic that not every lesson that day was lost on me. Before I was so swiftly and silently robbed, I absorbed some stories about Spain’s long and complicated history, which, on more than one occasion, involved miracles.

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A group of about 20 students arrived at the Aeropuerto Internacional José Martí in Havana close to midnight on Sunday, December 28th. That very next morning, classes started for the January, 2015 USAC Cuba program. Despite the late arrival and few hours of sleep, students were eager to climb up the marble staircase at Casa Africa in Old Havana for the first day of class. As a visiting professor, I, too, felt the rush of excitement that comes from that first meeting with students.

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