University of Iowa

Authored by Claire Jacobson

Claire Jacobson's family
1/19/2016

Questions

If you ask me, “How was Morocco?” or any similar iteration of the question, my scripted response will be something along the lines of, “It was great! I learned a lot, and I loved being there, but I’m glad to be home.” This answer, or whichever variation of it bores me the least, satisfies ninety-eight percent of the frustrating, albeit well-meaning, questioners.
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Marseille street decorations photo
12/7/2015

On Being Sick While Studying Abroad

Here's a fun fact about me: I almost never get sick. Aside from my annual two- to three-day stomach flu, usually in December or January, the most I get is allergy-related sniffles or the occasional migraine. Last year, my annual stomach flu fell during finals week of spring semester, which I maintain is the reason I did so poorly on my Computer Science Fundamentals exam. So it has been surprising (and somewhat irritating) to me that in the last three weeks I've gotten sick twice and missed more classes than the previous months of the semester combined.
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photo of mosque
12/7/2015

Islamophobia, Study Abroad Blog Post

For about a month, a group of international students and I planned on going to Marseille for a weekend trip. In light of recent events in France right now, some had to drop out. One of my friends, a wonderful American Muslim girl, decided not to go because she wears a hijab, and she was afraid of how people there will treat her. She already has trouble going through airports under normal circumstances, but now she's worried that even people on the streets in France will harass her, like they have many others. France doesn't have a history of dealing well with different religions and cultures, and Muslims in particular.
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11/10/2015

On Moroccan Pedagogy

Back in August, I was told that Al Akhawayn University was designed on the American system, differing from most universities of the world in that it involves a “liberal arts” education. Students don’t just study within their specialization, but a wide range of subjects in a way that is meant to broaden one’s worldview and train in critical thinking. But I’m discovering that while you can take the professor out of the Moroccan university, it’s harder to take the Moroccan university out of the professor. Even though the university is “American” in style, that doesn’t change the way individual professors conduct their classes. As a result, I’ve been learning the hard way what it’s like to attend an actual Moroccan university from my two language professors with whom I have a love/hate relationship.
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10/23/2015

The Reality of Homesickness

Homesickness hit me hard this past week, which marks a little less than two months since leaving home. When I was getting ready to leave, back in August, I knew I would miss some things while I was in Morocco, like my family, friends, dog, et cetera. But these aren't the things that bothered me the most– it's not hard to make a Skype call home. The real difficulty lies in a few things I never knew I would miss, little things that even though they wouldn't matter by themselves add up to make a big difference.
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9/22/2015

Adventure in Meknès

I've studied Arabic for three years. I can write papers, discuss ideas, give presentations, and I can't even ask a taxi driver what the fare is in Morocco. Or I couldn't yesterday morning, when my fellow international student and I took a taxi with four other people (two in the front seat, four squeezed in the back) to the city of Meknès, about an hour away from campus, for the day. We were lucky– there happened to be someone else in the taxi who spoke English.
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9/21/2015

The Zaouia

Yesterday morning, bright and far too early, I and about forty other students and staff set out for Zaouia Sidi Abd es-Salaam, a nine-kilometer hike through the forest from Al Akhawayn University's campus. Organized by the Interfaith Alliance, the goal of our hike was to see the zaouia, a shrine built over the mausoleum of a famous Moroccan holy man Sidi Abd es-Salaam, and see the limestone caves for which the city of Ifrane was named (in the local Berber dialect).
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Claire Jacobsen
8/28/2015

Bucket list

In preparation for studying abroad, I was able to cross an item off of my bucket list: I got an international driving permit. It doesn’t matter as much if I actually use it, although that would be great, too. (After two days in the country, though, I’m already more than a little hesitant to get behind the wheel.) It’s just the fact that I could legally drive in Morocco if I really wanted to that is exciting.
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