The Catholic University of America

Alyssa Aguirre - Moroccan Summer Institute


Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

I wanted to go somewhere different. Most people go to Rome, Spain, the United Kingdom. I wanted to go somewhere new. I also wanted to meet new people. I think it's important to see from the perspective of someone else. I wanted to learn about a different culture. I think a lot of problems in the world would be resolved if we would simply try to understand each other. Likewise, I wanted to know about Islam. This religion is often misrepresented in the media and I wanted to learn more. I also wanted to become more cultured. I believe it important to familiarize oneself on different religions, ideas and beliefs, and the culture and traditions of other people.


What I Wish I Had Known Before I Went

I wish I would have known to pack snacks. Some of the foods in Morocco did not sit well with me and sometimes I wouldn't feel well. I also wish I would have learned a few phrases or words in Arabic or even French. French is also a language commonly used.


A Funny Story or Situation

I remember one night my friend asked me to walk her to a nearby restaurant because she was meeting some friends and didn't want to walk alone in the dark. I agreed of course and slipped on my slides and we walked out the door. We talked as we walked and I noticed it was chilly out. My legs started to get cold. My legs... my legs were exposed! I was wearing shorts outside in a Muslim country. We were advised to dress modestly so we wouldn't stick out. We were allowed to wear shorts in the dorm but because I'm so used to wearing shorts and t-shirts I completely forgot. I frantically told my friend and she laughed and whipped out her phone and took a picture. I ran back to the dorm in my shorts and slides. Looking back, it was actually pretty funny. My friend still brings it up every now and then.


Host Country's Culture

Morocco is environmentally very diverse. There are regions of the country that are mountainous, have forests, covered in desert, or are cooler from the sea breeze. Morocco was also very welcoming of us foreigners. The people were very friendly and were very patient with us when we tried ordering food in Arabic. They even helped us pronounce words correctly. The culture was very centered around family and religion. It was beautiful to see the devotion to the traditions and customs of both Islam and Morocco.



The courses were taught by CUA staff. Professor Guthrie made class very interesting and incorporated all that we were learning on our day and weekend trips. The lessons were very interesting. The assignments and projects were appropriate to the courses and were fun. The discussions in class were very engaging. So much so, my peers and I often discussed what we learned outside of class. Often, our trips were our classes. It was very beneficial to our learning to witness first hand what we were learning in class.



I stayed at the center the courses were taught in. The rooms were on the upper floors and the classrooms were on the bottom floors. The rooms were dorm like and I shared my room with two other people. I chose to stay in a dorm because I was unfamiliar with the language and customs of Morocco. Other students stayed with host families because they knew more Arabic and were either studying the language or Islam. I was more comfortable living in a setting that was closer to my experience back at Catholic.


Advice for Future Students

Wherever you go, be open to a new culture and a new way of thinking. Engage with the locals to better understand the culture of the area. Don't be afraid to try new foods, visit different places, and really immerse yourself into the country. Also, planning is very important for your trip. Stay on top of everything you need to submit. Lastly, have fun, take lots of pictures, and cherish the memories you make.


Student Profile:

MajorPsychology and Brain Sciences

Hometown: El Paso, TX

Program: Moroccan Summer Institute

Term Abroad: Summer 2018

Contact Alyssa