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Student Views on Sociology Study Abroad Trip

"Crime and Justice at International Crossroads" is one of the rare programs that lets you have two widely different experiences in just one summer. The cultures are so different but you can see how Morocco influences Spain (mmm, shawarma shops on every corner and a Moorish castle towering above the city) and how Spain influences Morocco (you'll hear Western music on the radio and Spanish all over Tangier). Making the transition was disconcerting, but I was able to reflect on all the new things I was experiencing with my classmates and our actual classes were focused on comparing the cultures and judicial systems of the two countries.

In the months leading up to my study abroad, I was worried about three things: what in the world are the classes going to be like?; would I like my classmates?; and am I going to be independent? Let me go through them all and help you out.

What are classes like?

On some days, we had class for a few hours with Dr. Stamatel. We would read an article together, have discussion, and learn about some new concepts or about historical issues in Morocco or Spain. On other days, we did on-site learning and got to ask experts about issues in justice. We visited a juvenile detention center and spoke to a judge about how the juvenile justice system worked. We visited a women's aid NGO and lawyers and counsellors told us about their work and what changes they were trying to make in their society. Dr. Stamatel gave us a base of knowledge to work with, and then we were able to get more specialized knowledge on the field trips. I was one of the only people in class with no background in criminology, and I still felt like I understood the issues we were talking about after the formal classes and getting the on-site experience.

Will I like my classmates?

This program attracts some great people. During my session, the group was rather small and we bonding quickly trying to navigate Casablanca together and sharing language skills to help each other out. We are all very different characters, but we work really well together and we bring together different perspectives when we hang out. Of course, every session has a new set of students on it, but I still talk to my Crossroads classmates and I think this class brings together people who really are enthusiastic about learning and about experiencing everything about the new country.

Am I going to be independent?

The professor and the on-site staff were so good with this. They are both wonderful resources and are so willing to help you if you want advice on your paper or directions to the bus station, but at the same time, when you're not on a scheduled activity, you can do what you want. It's a short program, so don't expect to take weekend trips anywhere, but you have time for a full day trip while in Spain (I personally recommend Seville) and you have plenty of time every day to go souvenir shopping, discover a new part of the city, and try out tapas bars. The program also has cultural events and tours included, so you don't need to worry about missing out on the experience of traveling because of a busy schedule. It's really the perfect balance between helping you and treating you like adults.

I highly recommend this program to any student who wants to experience something new, spend some time in one of the most beautiful cities on earth, and wants to learn from many extremely qualified people. With that, I wish you good luck and safe travels.

-Nadia, Class of '18, International Studies major.