Outgoing: Clara at the University of Birmingham, UK, and the University Mohammed V, Morocco
Having already spent the third year of her bachelor degree as an Erasmus student at the University of Birmingham, Clara Ferchaud decided to repeat the experience for a semester in Rabat (Morocco) within the framework of her Master in International Law (Euro-Mediterranean exchange track).
Why did you choose to carry out a mobility experience?
My bachelor, which included an English language option, focused on both French and Common law. The University of Birmingham represented a perfect opportunity to discover different teaching and learning methods, to perfect my English and also to step outside my comfort zone. After a particularly enriching year, it was therefore without hesitation that I chose to renew the experience, this time in the south-Mediterranean.
I already knew a few things about Morocco before my departure, but my main objective was to learn and understand the country’s relationship with law and the level of development of its judicial system. I also wished to obtain a more direct and concrete sociological and political viewpoint on current challenges, with less of a Eurocentric perspective.
I was convinced that this mobility period and the opportunity to change my perception of others and society would be intellectually stimulating, and I wasn’t wrong!
What were your first impressions of your two host universities?
The heritage as well as the modernity of the University of Birmingham was very impressive: the architectural grandeur of the centuries-old red brick buildings, the quality of its facilities, the size of the campus, the number of students and especially the high percentage of international students attending the university. Thanks to the Erasmus program, I was able to benefit from the high quality learning environment provided by this university at an affordable price, for which I am very grateful. The university disco was also a unique and great place for students to build relationships!
University Mohammed V was mainly attended by upper-middle class French speaking students. The campus gardens were particularly beautiful with fruit trees and flowers. Although the administration moved at a slower pace than at European universities, my timetable thankfully allowed me enough time to explore outside the campus and I was able to discover a fantastic country.
What did you learn from these international experiences?
Both of these experiences taught me a lot in their respective ways.
In the UK, I discovered a modern society that facilitated integration at a social and cultural level: I took part in associations, events, and even language courses in Russian! Class content was research-orientated and very practical. Lecturers were more accessible, allowing for a different learning style. My accommodation was a big positive - I shared a house with 10 other students in the “Selly Oak” district, where many other students live. It’s a great place to meet up in the evening for a drink, a game of pool or to watch a football game.
It would take me a lifetime to explain everything that I learnt about Morocco’s culture and way of life throughout my stay. Despite some challenges and social contrasts, my memories are mainly of a beautiful country with mountains, deserts and seas, in which religion plays a central role. A striking moment for me was when two Moroccan friends took me to Essaouira – a very peaceful city of great beauty.
These two trips showed me how important it is to be open to new experiences, to push your limits and understand how the world works by changing your perspective. Going abroad forces you to leave your habits behind and come back with a heightened sense of the world.
I’m very excited to be returning to Rabat for my internship and the completion of my Master degree, with the privilege of already understanding how the country functions. As for the UK, I still return regularly; it’s become like a second home!