Rabat CIEE scene by Reyanna Blank
FOURTH OF JULY
No fireworks, but Rabat really is our home away from home! We combined Iftar and a Fourth of July celebration with the Moroccan teachers, "buddies," and American students.
JORDAN AND ISRAEL
July 6—11, 2016
In addition to visiting other cities within Morocco, our group of five in the Moroccan Studies program spent a week in Jordan and Israel. It still blows me away that the trip was even possible. We departed early Wednesday morning from the Casablanca airport and arrived in Amman, Jordan, where we visited the old Roman Theater, Citadel Hill, and ate some delicious Jordanian kebab and hummus (and then slept off our jetlag for the rest of the day).
Early the next morning the real part of our Israel adventure began. We met up with seven other students in the CIEE Jordan program and two CIEE directors. Together we crossed the border by cab and bus from Jordan into Israel—or attempted to. Anyone familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict knows just how challenging crossing the border can be, and two members of our group were held up at the border with one of the directors for six hours waiting for their passports to be cleared. Finally, though, they were through, and we continued our journey to the sea of Galilee.
Only slightly behind schedule, we traveled to (in my opinion) the most important place to visit in Israel—the Chwarma vendor. Afterward we bussed to Capernaum and the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter by the sea, where we were able to put our feet into the same water that Jesus is said to have. Exhausted from our long day, we finally made it to our home base in the city of Haifa.
The first day was only physically tiring, though; visiting Jerusalem the next day was an emotional marathon. We were introduced to a plethora of both religious and historic landmarks: The Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and both the Western Wall and the Separation Wall. We ended our Israel experience with a brief stop in Nazareth for more chwarma and then walking to the top of the Mount of Precipice for a last overview of the area.
As part of our cultural studies, the trip was intended to offer us the opportunity to critically compare two different cultures outside the U.S., and I think it more than accomplished that. As someone who had never been outside the United States before, jumping into Morocco for my first trip was a pretty big challenge for me and it took a while to adjust to—so it was a huge surprise that I felt so immediately comfortable in Israel. Even though I intellectually knew that not every country in the region is similar, it still came as a surprise to see how big the differences are among just Morocco, Jordan, and Israel. Studying abroad to Morocco has permanently changed how I perceive other cultures and my own—getting another perspective through traveling to Jordan and Israel, however, was invaluable, and I hope that CIEE students are able to continue making so many trips for many sessions to come!