Name: Nicole DiTolla
Major: Journalism and Electronic Media, Media Information Technology
Hometown: Mount Vernon, NY
HC: I understand you sought out the opportunity to study abroad in Morocco. Please tell us, how was it?
ND: Yes! I wanted to finish all my Arabic courses in an Arab country, where I could practice the language. I knew that I wanted a different living and learning experience. I absolutely loved living in Morocco! I stayed with a host family, had five host siblings and host parents. I studied with other American students from across the USA. The food was amazing too! Tagines were life back then. They had tagines of lemon chicken, of cous-cous and chicken, lamb dishes and loads of lentil and chickpea soup, which is called Harira.
HC: What type of cultural differences did you run into during your time abroad?
ND: One stereotype that should be cleared is up, is that non-Muslims do not have to wear a headscarf, known as a hijab, unless they are visiting a Mosque. So, I never had to wear a headscarf. The culture in Morocco is vastly different. You should not expect the American culture to follow you when you go abroad. I dressed more conservatively, long, light canvas pants, flowy dresses, I really loved my wardrobe when I was abroad. But I loved being able to absorb and acclimate to a culture so vastly different from mine! I realized that I had to conform to the Moroccan culture, and that Moroccans should not have to acclimate to me. If you go in with the right mindset, you experience so much more!
HC: What was your favorite part of studying abroad?
ND: It would be a combination of learning Darija, the Moroccan Arabic, and living with my host family. The more I actually studied and conversed in Darija, the more I would understand at my homestay family! It was amazing correlating my classes with my life and living exactly what I was learning. I loved getting to know my neighbors, and homestay family. The youngest of my host siblings spoke English perfectly. One of my host sisters, Majda, was the most different and amazing person. She had dyed red hair and ran the instagram for one of Morocco’s biggest cooks. Needless to say, my homestay family rocked.
HC: Within your four months in Morocco, did you get to visit other cities or countries?
ND: I lived in the city of Rabat, and travelled all over Morocco: Tangier, Essaouira, Marrakesh and Merzouga. I even camped out in the Sahara and saw five shooting stars and the Milky Way. The first two months my program sponsored us to travel throughout Morocco with our fellow students. This is when I went to all the amazing Moroccan cities and towns. I traveled from the coast, to the Atlas Mountains, to the desert. But in November, Ryanair started flying out of Rabat, so I had easy access to most of Europe! I traveled most of the time with my friend from the program, Klara. She spoke four languages! I went to Berlin, Germany, Warsaw, Poland, Krakow, Poland, Madrid, Spain and London, United Kingdom. I even took a little road trip to see the Stonehenge! Traveling by yourself is a pretty exhilarating experience too!
HC: Aside from studying abroad, what type of things are you involved in on campus?
ND: I write for The Aquinas, I play for the Electric City Scranton Ultimate team! I work at TSC, the Technology Support Center in AMH. I am a club officer for the Royal Astronomy Club.
HC: What is your dream job?
ND: I have a lot of dream jobs, but I’ll tell you my favorites! I would love to be an international journalist, but I would want to cover it in an unfiltered, un-partisan way – which probably means I’ll have to create my own media network. BUT I can also see myself going back to my home city of Mount Vernon, NY and try to help the city become what it truly can be. Unfortunately, it has a long track record of being a pretty corrupt.
HC: Lastly, if you could describe your college experience in one word, what would it be?