I chose to write about the study abroad program offered at Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, a small city in the mountains of the country. The program requires student to participate in a 3-week course in Moroccan language and culture, before beginning their actual school work. In my opinion, there are few places that demand as much international consideration and attention as the Arab World, which Morocco is a part of. The dynamics of the region have changed incredibly swiftly in recent years due to externally and internally driven wars, alongside phenomenons such as the Arab Spring. Although Morocco is in no way the prime example of recent destabilization in the Arab World, it is not really a possibility to study abroad in Syria or The West Bank. There is still incredible merit to studying in a country where one can be emerged in the cultural values of the Arab People. Organizations and governments hoping to provide greater stability and safety to the region must first understand its history and culture. The priorities and visions the Arab people have for their own future do not necessarily mirror Western values, and this needs to be reconciled and respected. Conflicts like the Iraq war are a perfect example of how devastating Western ignorance and misunderstanding can be, when brought to an already volatile situation. Being in the region for a prolonged period of time can provide a frame of reference that removed observation cannot necessarily give students. Since I hope to build a career working in NGOs that deal with policy and development in destabilized or underdeveloped regions, this study abroad would be the perfect experience to further prepare me. The people employed to deal with regions like this should be as educated as they possibly can be on the needs of the people. It is futile to apply ones own set of priorities and values to a country where the citizens do not share that vision. Outsiders do not know the daily needs of the country’s own people better than they do. I can read endless books and journals, written by Western Academics, about the problems with the Arab Civilization, and I will still be making decisions based on secondary sources. To be a true critical thinker and problem solver, I must have both a removed structural analysis and a sense of the situation grounded in the reality of peoples lives. I believe that traveling to different places for something other than vacation is very important to anyone hoping to build a global consciousness. Of course, it is not easy to absorb into another culture, especially one that is so significantly removed from your own. The people of Morocco are, for the most part, fairly religious. Therefore, things like overt public displays of affection, smoking in the streets or wearing revealing clothing are less likely to be condoned by the locals. Although the people of the country do not usually expect visitors to adhere to their practices, foreigners living in the country should be aware and try not to do anything that is a clear a front to the ways of Islam. A different standard for gendered behavior goes along with the religiosity of country. For example, it is much less common for women to smoke or drink in public, in non-urban areas, basically all women will be wearing at least a headscarf. It is also necessary to be aware that a non-Muslim visitor is differentiated from Muslim visitors. For example, non-Muslims cannot enter the Mosques in the country, they can only view them from outside. The same goes for other religious structures, such as the tombs of local saints. Overall, I as a female would definitely have to be very aware of my behavior in Morocco, in a way I do not need to be in The United States. There is much of a universal standard for proper and respectful behavior, because it is a Muslim dominated population. Mannerisms, customs for guests and other ways of showing your respect are also more relevant. It is definitely not impossible to adapt to the culture, but it does take a level of self awareness that is not required to appear respectable in social situations in most Western Countries.