Meknes Orientation

Blaze Grabowski headshot
Blaze Grabowski
October 12, 2023

After our two days of orientation, IES Abroad Rabat moved the show to Meknes. There, we received ten days of orientation that encompassed a wide range of cultural activities and an intensive Darija Arabic course. By the end of the ten days, we all were exhausted, but our experiences in Meknes will position us all well for the upcoming twelve weeks in Rabat. 

We arrived in Meknes late in the evening when our host families brought us to our temporary homes. This aspect of the orientation became the most special part. Mama Bouchra, Baba Karim, host sister Manal and host brother Mehdi made our experience in Meknes so special. I was hosted with two other IES Abroad students, who also had a special time here.  Our host family showed us the ropes to living in Meknes and Morocco, whether that was practicing Darija and French, taking us the closest Hammam, they were our guardian angels. 

Our favorite part of our homestay was certainly the food we were fed. We tried a wide range of Morocco's cuisines, from fish and beef tagines to couscous. When our host mother discovered that we had adventurous appetites, she prepared us beef brain, liver, and spine! 

Our Darija class was a rewarding experience that allows me to live in Morocco and interact with locals. Through this class, I can negotiate with merchants, ask for basic things, and have introductory conversations with locals. Incorporated in our class time were field trips, where we ventured to local cafes and souks to practice our Darija outside of the classroom. 

IES Abroad provided a wide range of cultural activities to fill our afternoons in Meknes. These experiences ranged from caligraphy to dance to henna tattoos to seeing the city of Meknes. I particularly appreciated visiting the Royal Palace and Mausoleum on a horse drawn carriage! I also enjoyed learning how to make chicken tajine and the Moroccan bread called Meloui. 

The highlight of the orientation was the trip to Volubilis and Fez. Volubilis was the southernmost point of the Roman Empire. We discovered ancient mosaics, old homes, and olive presses. With a forum, basilica, and triumphant arch, the city had all of the key Roman features. It is certainly Morocco's Pompeii and is worth a visit for anybody interested in Ancient Rome. 

After Volubilis was our stop in Fez, which was an equally fascinating experience. We toured the leather works, which are unique to the city. After buying some leather pieces, we dined in a beautifully designed Riad, which was followed by a tour of the city's oldest sites. Fez is a truly spectacular city that I am very excited to return to.

Our orientation in Meknes was a wonderful way to immerse ourselves in Moroccan culture, food, and history. With orientation over, I am so excited for what else this beautiful country has to offer!

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Blaze Grabowski

Hello there! My name is Blaze. I am a student at George Washington University and I study International Affairs. I am also a Global Bachelor Student, a GW program where students study abroad for three semesters.

2023 Fall
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International Affairs
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