The second semester is in full swing on campus, and with it comes a time of reflection for students who studied abroad during the fall semester or participated in January interim courses abroad and off-campus. Here, Marcus Newton ’16 shares a few favorite photos and reflections from his months away on the St. Olaf-led Mediterranean Semester program.
Here I am in the Ksar (fortified city) of Ait Benhaddou, which is dated to have been created around the 17th century.
Ait Benhaddou is a beautiful city, and it is filled with beautiful winding streets and little artisan bazaars. For Game of Thrones fans, it was the filming location for the city of Yun Kai, and it is also where multiple scenes from the movie Gladiator were filmed. We saw it on our 14 day excursion in Morocco.
This is one of our classrooms at the American Language Center in Fes. It features beautiful tile work and other Moroccan art. At ALIF we studied Moroccan Sociology and Arabic. We also lived with a Muslim host family for four weeks where we were able to get an idea of what daily family life looks like in Morocco. All of the families were so welcoming and warm that we made wonderful connections despite the large language and cultural barriers. My host mom and I would often sit together and drink tea while watching Moroccan news. I didn’t understand a word of the news, but it was still such a memorable experience to get to spend so much time with such a wonderful, welcoming and loving woman.
This is the Moroccan city of Chefchaouen, known as the “blue city.” I had an amazing time exploring their medina and looking at a bunch of different artwork from local artists. Several shop owners invited us in for mint tea in order for us to get a taste of Moroccan hospitality. We spent a day here while on a break from the American Language Center in Fes.
We took a three-day trip from Israel to Jordan, and Petra is one of the most amazing places I’ve been to. This is a photo of what is believed to be the treasury for the ancient city. Most of this city is carved into caves like this and even features ancient piping that allowed the cave homes to have running water.
We discovered a small tailor shop when walking back to our guest house one evening and stopped in to talk to the tailor, Sammi. It turns out that he has a history with St.Olaf! He has been connecting with Oles who come to stay in the Old City since the 70s, and he even sewed some custom suits/jackets for a few Olaf profs. He reached into a drawer in his work table and pulled out a stack of photos, many of which were of different Ole groups. He also has a collection of business cards from past professors from the Term in the Mediterranean/Term in the Middle East program. Sammi is a Palestinian Christian who speaks the Aramaic language, and every time we stopped by to see him he insisted on reading the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic and playing Aramaic music for us. He was also sure to offer us candy and a good story or two. He has been a tailor in the old city for over 50 years.
St. Olaf study abroad programs offer a fantastic way to get to know the world. Every year, hundreds of Oles like Marcus make global connections and see remarkable places with their own eyes. Want to learn more? Check out the student-written blogs from other programs!