Arabic student learning a Moroccan trade on a cultural immersion excursion
Arabic students learn to cook a Moroccan meal as part of the immersive cooking club
Cultural activities at Qalam wa Lawh serve two purposes: to provide students with more language immersion practice and to introduce students to a more in-depth look at Moroccan culture. These activities are a platform for cross-cultural exchange, allowing students to live the language and extend learning beyond the classroom – and to have fun along the way!
Live the Language
Learning a new language requires the chance to practice. That’s why, as part of the full immersion of studying Arabic in Morocco, students at Qalam wa Lawh are encouraged to live the language. Qalam wa Lawh offers a host of cultural activities that contribute to Arabic language learning in a variety of different hands-on experiences.
Experience daily life with a Host family
Living with a host family is an excellent way to practice Arabic and experience Morocan culture in an authentic setting. But the ability to practice Arabic daily with native speakers is only a part of the experience. Students also gain a first-hand look at Moroccan daily life – an essential element of cultural immersion. Plus, Moroccan host families love sharing their culture with students! | More details about staying with a host family >>
Keep up the conversation with a Language Partner
Language Partners are native Arabic speakers with whom students can practice speaking to learn about local culture and customs. The Language Partners volunteer to take part in activities with students at Qalam wa Lawh, but the pairs are also encouraged to meet outside of the center to experience Moroccan culture on their own. Language partners can be reserved at any time throughout the year. | To ask for a Language Partner, or to learn how to become a Language Partner, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t miss the Arabic Language Café
The Arabic Language Café, a weekly meeting for a lively discussion over tea or coffee, takes place every Thursday. All Qalam wa Lawh students are invited to practice their Arabic skills and meet locals from the Rabat area who come join the discussion. Discussion topics are chosen based on relevant news stories, holidays, and general interest. Language Partners often schedule to meet their new Qalam friends at these events.| Learn how to join the Arabic Language Café >>
Experience the culture
Moroccan culture is an intricate mélange of Amazigh (Berber), North African, Arab, and Mediterranean culture. From Gnawa music to hooded djllabas, from couscous to Moroccan hammams, there is so much to learn about and explore! That’s why Qalam offers various activities to enhance the cultural immersion experience.
One way to both practice the Arabic language and experience Moroccan culture is through Qalam’s workshops. Working with the culture hands-on allows students to learn using all their senses, retaining the Arabic vocabulary they learn in a more direct way. Offered in a variety of subjects, these workshops introduce students to many different parts of Moroccan and Arab culture.
Arabic Calligraphy workshops
Arabic calligraphy is an art that dates back centuries. As meaningful as it is beautiful, calligraphy allows students to get a closer look at the Arabic language and participate in an ancient tradition. All levels of Arabic students are welcome to join the workshops. | More details about the Calligraphy Program. >>
Cooking workshops allow students to learn to cook Moroccan, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern dishes, all while improving their Arabic language skills. Students particularly enjoy this workshop, which introduces them to Moroccan spices and smells that they remember well after their time at Qalam wa Lawh. | Learn more about Cooking Workshops >>
Arabic Art Lessons
Qalam also offers different types of Arabic art lessons. Depending on the interest of the students, Qalam holds workshops with traditional oud players, Moroccan dancers, and various types of painters and artists from across the North African region. All lessons are free to Qalam students.
In-town cultural Excursions
As a city for studying abroad, Rabat has so much to offer. With Qalam’s cultural excursions, students can discover historical sites, visit artisan shops, and see all of Rabat’s picturesque features. Students may take excursions with their class, join school-wide excursions, or visit sites as part of their academic clubs. (More information below.)
Located along the edge of Rabat’s Bouregreg River, Chellah is one of the most popular destinations in Rabat. Chellah holds both ruins from the Roman Empire during its conquest in Rabat and the ruins of a 12th century mosque. Surrounded by a spacious garden, these ruins are not something students want to miss.
Kasbah of the Oudayas
Another one of the famous Rabat sites, the Kasbah of the Oudayas sits at the corner of the Bouregreg River and the Atlantic Ocean. With gorgeous views of Rabat, its sister city Salé, and the ocean, the Kasbah also has an Andalusian garden, a café with mint tea and Moroccan cookies, and a beautiful neighborhood to explore.
Hassan Tower and Mohammed V Mausoleum
The Sultan of Morocco in the 1200s commanded his workers to start construction on the largest mosque in the world. When he died, however, construction stopped, and all that’s left today are the base pillars and what would have become the tallest minaret in the world at the time. The complex sat abandoned until the 1960s, when the kingdom began building a mausoleum that currently holds the last two kings of Morocco and their brothers. Today, students and tourists come from all over the world to see these two beautiful structures.
Mohammed VI Museum
The Mohammed VI Museum of Modern Art is centrally-located in the heart of Rabat. After opening in 2014, the Museum has become an important host of Moroccan and African culture and art in Rabat.
Exotic Gardens of Bouknadel
Only a fifteen-minute drive from Qalam wa Lawh Center, the Exotic Gardens of Bouknadel are an impressive sight. Originally created as the personal gardens of a French lawyer living in Morocco, the gardens are now open the public. Because different sections of the garden include different types of plants from all over the world, the garden is open and blooming year-round.
The Oulja Artisanal Complex
The Oulja Complex is located across the river in the city of Salé. Students can find all sorts of artisanal pottery, speak with the artists and vendors to learn about the creation process, and even try their hand at pottery-making themselves!
The chance to experience the rich diversity of Moroccan cities is one of the most rewarding aspects of studying Arabic in Morocco. From Qalam wa Lawh’s central location in the Moroccan capital, all the major sites of the country are within easy reach. Qalam wa Lawh organizes weekend trips to the following destinations:
(Trips are either two-days, one-night or three-days, two-nights. Personalized trips can also be arranged.)
Only about a two to three-hour drive from Rabat, Fes is one of the ancient imperial cities of Morocco. Fes is home to the largest medina in the kingdom, which is also the world’s largest urban car-free zone and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Not far from Fes is the city of Meknes, another UNESCO World Heritage site. While slightly smaller than Fes, Meknes is also brimming with culture, and only about a 40-minute drive from the ruins of the Roman city Volubilis (Walili or وليلي in Arabic).
Perhaps the most touristic city in Morocco, Marrakesh is home to some of the kingdom’s most famous sites. Jamaa El Fna Squre, the Marjorelle Gardens, the Koutoubia Mosque, and multiple palaces provide plenty of things to do when traveling in the Red City.
Casablanca, of Humphrey Bogart movie fame, is only about an hour away from Rabat. The bustling, modern city is the largest in Morocco, with a population of almost 4 million. The coastal Hassan II Mosque, which can hold 80,000 people praying inside and another 20,000 on the grounds,
is a must-see in Casablanca.
What study abroad experience in Morocco would be complete without a trip to the Sahara Desert? This journey is longer than most other Qalam trips, but it is completely worth it! Complete with camel rides, traditional Moroccan music around a campfire, and star-gazing, this trip is sure to be a memorable adventure.
A laid-back coastal city, Essaouira is only 3 hours west of Marrakesh. With a grand citadel and harbor scene, this windy city is also the host of the famous Gnawa Music Festival each year. The Festival brings in musicians of different genres from all over the world to play with traditional Moroccan musicians.
Tangier is on the northern tip of Morocco, only 14 km across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain. Tangier was the favorite vacation spot of many great writers and artists, including William Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, and Jack Kerouac. Even Winston Churchill visited some of the Tangier cafes overlooking the view across the water to Spain!
Called the Blue City, this charming town nestled in the Rif Mountains is famous for its all-blue decorations. Potted plants, rooftops, fountains, even entire buildings are painted blue! Chefchaouen’s small-town feel and welcoming atmosphere makes this a favorite among Qalam students.
Join Qalam wa Lawh’s academic clubs to get involved in the local community with other Arabic students who share similar interests. Clubs are managed by Arabic teachers and teaching assistants, but students drive all major decisions within the clubs at member meetings. You can also join us for guest lectures and discussions hosted weekly or by request!
Students can practice their Arabic while simultaneously giving back to the local Rabat community through our Volunteering Club. Members work with the Club Coordinators to choose various projects that can make a difference, building lasting connections and friendships in the process. Students can also volunteer for more hours through an independent project. | Check out our Volunteering page >>
Qalam wa Lawh’s Arts Club satisfies the needs of creative-minded students. The Club draws from the interest of its members and chooses various artistic activities to introduce students to Moroccan culture. The Club invites musicians and dancers to do workshops, brings materials to create traditional Moroccan crafts, and views films or shows together with organized discussions after.
Students stay on top of current events with the Arabic Media Club. Media Club members take part in cultural excursions and cover local events and then come together to share what they learned through discussions, written reports, and blogs.
Explore culinary traditions and share your own! Cooking club is a special chance for students to learn how to make some of the most famous Moroccan dishes and share their own culinary knowledge. Sometimes students and their instructor also go as a group to the souk to shop for the needed ingredients and then prepare the dish together later that day. As with all courses and activities at Qalam wa Lawh, the language of instruction is Arabic. | Check out more information about Moroccan cooking workshops >>
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Special Guest Lectures and Cultural Events
As another opportunity to educate our students about the culture, history, religion, and lifestyle of the Arab world, Qalam wa Lawh regularly organizes guest lectures, round table discussions, musical presentations, and special events.