Stories that Shaped Us: Falling in Love with the Arabic Language, Culture and People
Jamie Nix is an ISA Meknes alumna and former ISA/TEAN Global Ambassador at University of Arkansas whose experience abroad during Fall 2015 helped improve her Arabic language skills while also led her to meeting her future partner in life.
We reached out to learn more about why she chose to go abroad with ISA Morocco and how her experience abroad has impacted her long-term. Check out her unique story below and hear her advice for others wanting to follow a similar path!
What inspired you to study abroad and why did you choose Meknes?
JN: Before I started university, I went to visit my cousins who were living in Muscat, Oman. After a summer there, I decided to study International Relations and the Arabic language as an undergraduate student. I explored both study abroad programs in Amman, Jordan and Meknes, Morocco where I would be studying Arabic 5-6 hours a week. I found the geography in Morocco to be absolutely beautiful. Also, the program in Meknes was more affordable.
You have quite the study abroad love story! How did you and your now husband meet?
JN: We met while I was studying abroad in Meknes, Morocco. We were introduced at Cafe Bella Cita by one of Tariq’s best friends, Omar Lansari. Omar was also my host brother. The three of us and my roommate, Jessica, quickly became close. We would spend our weekends together exploring many cities all around Morocco from Fes, Chefchaouen, Ifrane, Guigou to Rabat. We shared a semester together on the road, finding new places to enjoy.
Three years later, I returned to Morocco to see my friends. Tariq and I go on a date to celebrate his 25th birthday and we quickly began to reminisce about the long weekends of 2015. I met his parents and then I returned home shortly after. I returned again to stay with Tariq and his family in 2019. I was falling in love all over again. During this time, we connected with each other, his family, and hung out with friends. I returned home in April 2019. In August 2019, I began my third trip back to Morocco to stay with Tariq. We traveled from Meknes to Midelt to Asilah to Marrakech to Agadir and circled their way back up North. We spent a month in a new city almost every three days dreaming up our next steps. And the next step? A wedding. We got married in December 2019 and have been living together in Rabat, Morocco ever since.
What’s your favorite part of living in Rabat, Morocco? What’s been the most challenging part?
JN: My favorite part about living in Rabat, Morocco is the weather. The sun shines most days, and it stays between 60-80 most of the year. Also, I love how accessible buying food can be. There are fresh markets or bodegas on most streets, so we find ourselves buying only enough for 1 day, each day. We do not have that luxury where I am from. Before moving, I made weekly grocery runs. The most challenging part living in Rabat has been being away from my mother, sisters, and brother.
What was the inspiration behind your organization, Plants & Poetry?
JN: I’ve always had a deep admiration for both plants and poetry and how each can re-ground and center us in difficult times. After I got my degree in International Relations, I quickly discovered how broad of a field it could rather than just focusing on the relationships between governments, nonprofits, and other institutions. For example, the notion of connecting poets and scientists around the world. I began exploring poetry in different languages. It was that idea that inspired me to start a nature-based journal where we would publish poetry, art, and creative nonfiction from artists and scientists worldwide. We did a call for submissions on a global platform and now have published over 14 collections from contributors from USA, France, Ghana, South Africa, Canada, Australia, Spain, and many more countries. It’s fascinating to read the works of writers and be immersed in their environment, see their plants, and try to understand their relationship with the earth, water, air, soil, and wildlife all based on their written word.
What advice would you give to a college student who dreams of going abroad again?
JN: If you can afford it, do it. If you can’t, take advantage of the scholarships that are offered because there are plenty. Even if your degree is not focused on international studies, you can learn a lot. Studying abroad can help you become more adaptable, confident, courageous, spontaneous, compassionate, and strong in many ways. Also, you may meet lifelong friends (or a partner) where you least expect it.
Curious to hear more from ISA/TEAN alumni? Read more blogs from Morocco alumni or explore how other alumni made the leap to study abroad and chose the program that best fits their academic and cultural needs.
Inspired by Jamie’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in a study abroad program? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!