1-Do I need a visa to travel to Morocco?
Holders of American passports get a three-month tourist visa upon entering Morocco. This three-month period is renewed if you leave Morocco and re-enter.
2-How should I dress in Morocco?
In Marrakesh, western clothing is the norm. Men can wear shorts to the knees and t-shirts, but should plan to bring full length pants for visits to rural areas. Women should wear loose modest clothing. Skirts should not be shorter than knee-length. Tank tops and low cut tops are not recommended. In hotels, western style bathing suits/bikinis are acceptable. A long skirt, long sleeve blouse and scarf should be worn when visiting traditional rural areas.
Bring good walking shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen and sunhats as the sun is intense from May to October.
3-Is Marrakesh safe?
Yes. There are lots of Westerners in Marrakesh, both tourists and residents. There is no animosity towards them. There are no guns allowed in Morocco. The main thing to be aware of is petty theft. Keep your wallet in your front pocket, purses securely strapped and held under one arm, don’t talk on expensive cell phones while walking down the street. When stopping to take photos, check your surroundings first. Thieves can often ride by on motorbikes, grab a purse or camera and speed off, leaving the victim with no way to stop them. However, it’s been very rare that one of students has gotten mugged.
4-What type of living accommodations can the CLC help arrange?
Our visiting students can choose from several options. One is a homestay with a Moroccan family, hand picked and verified by the CLC. This works especially well for shorter stays of under a month. For longer stays, the CLC can help students rent furnished apartments near the CLC. Some students have also stayed in nearby inexpensive hotels such as the Toulousain or Le Pacha.
5-How much money should I budget for my living expenses, beyond tuition?
Just to give you a basic idea:
A hotel room runs $20 and up. A basic meal can start at $5 and up. A taxi-ride anywhere in Marrakesh should not exceed $2-3. A SIM card for your tri-band phone (the kind that works in Morocco) plus 20 minutes of local calls will run about $10, with prepaid re-fill cards costing between 8 and 25 dollars. Travel by train from Marrakesh to Casablanca, second class, will run $12 or so, and you can also find cheap flights between Marrakesh and Europe (Easyjet, Jet4You, Ryanair) for 50 Euros and up (depending on how far in advance you reserve).
6-What should I bring?
Pack light. Bring your clothing, electronic gear (laptop, ipod, camera, etc.). You can buy little socket converters in Marrakesh to plug in your gear. If you have a tri-band, unlocked cell phone, you can install a local SIM card for 10 or so dollars. Cosmetic products are readily available in Marrakesh. So is chocolate and all manner of junk food. There is a serious lack of good peanut butter though, so bring your own if you are attached. If you are staying with a host family, you may want to bring a small gift with you, maybe something special from your hometown.
7-Can I get University Credit for my Arabic studies at the CLC?
Check with the Arabic program over-view page for information concerning university credit.
8-I’m interested in doing some volunteer work in my free time, what are some options?
One option is to volunteer at the local orphanage. The babies there are always happy to have new faces to look at and new people to hold them. You can also volunteer to help Moroccan students with their English. You can do this at the CLC, which has a large number of Moroccan students.
9-What are a few cultural issues I should be aware of in Morocco?
Although Morocco is a very open and tolerant country, there is still a great respect for the religion and tradition in place. During the month of Ramadan, for example, nearly everyone in the country fasts and many restaurants are closed during the day. Relationships between the sexes are also seen in a conservative light. These issues and others we try to deal with during in-country orientation sessions.
10-What can I do for fun in my free time in Marrakesh?
Marrakesh has movie theaters including a cinema school which screens free movie showings in the original languages. You are also about 45 minutes from the mountains where skiing is possible in the winter and hiking all year around. The traditional old city and its many sights including the Jamalfna Square full of musicians, snake-charmers, and fortune tellers are also popular places to explore.
11-What’s the best way to get some exercise in Marrakesh?
This depends on how long you’re in town. There are jogging paths in the Menara Gardens and other places on the edge of the city which are popular for joggers , both men and women. Bike rentals are also possible. There is a tennis club and a number of fitness clubs which can be a bit pricey. Certain hotels also allow visitors to use their pools in the summer for about $10 a day. The CLC also has basketball hoop and pingpong table available for students.
12-What’s the attitude of Moroccans towards people from other religions?
There are regular Christian and Jewish services offered in the church and synagogue of the Gueliz, about 10 minutes from the CLC. Proselytizing to Moroccans, however, is prohibited by law.
13-What type of medical care and facilities are available in Marrakesh?
Our general practitioner of choice is Dr. Michaelis, a Dutch woman who speaks English (7, rue Ibn Sina, Guéliz, Marrakech 0524-44-83-43). A general consultation costs $12. Medicine such as antibiotics is readily available in local pharmacies.
Good dental services are provided by Dr. Squalli.
For more serious matters, there are several private clinics with Emergency care, surgery, and other services. The closest one is the Polyclinique du Sud
(2, Rue Yugoslavie 0524-44-79-99)
Private health care in Morocco is both high quality and affordable. A CLC staff member is available to assist students in getting the medical care they need.