Flights: Probably best to fly into Casa and take the train into Fez. AUI has a pick-up service from the Fez train station, and airport. If you can get a flight into Fez, power to you but hops to Fez from the airport you are likely to fly into will take unnecessary time/money.
Once your here, when you travel on the weekends, you can find cheap flights via RyanAir if your visiting Europe at all. If you’re going anywhere East, check out Russian Airlines (such as S7).
Visas: (not necessary if you are from the states, you will be required to obtain a residency permit. But the University does everything for you. If you at first find it bizaare that Abderrafie from the OIP office friends you on Facebook, don’t because he and a woman named Kadija are the most helpful people there. You will want them within reach, and vice versa.
Housing: All students reside on campus in gender segregated buildings/wings. Elevators in the newer buildings (38 and 39). Hot water has been extremely reliable.Wifi, compared to other places I’ve lived also extremely reliable. However, in the rooms I do recommend bringing an ethernet cable adapter to speed things up. One last thing, don’t arrive too early because the school won’t turn on heating until the last moment possible. Also, extra blankets can be asked for at the front desk in building 38. Speaking of the cold… climate. See below.
Climate: For the exact details you can look this up, but… it’s cold. Be prepared for snow. A friend of mine knew two students from his home university studying abroad; one in Sweden, the other in Ifrane, Morocco. According to him, they experienced the same amount of snow. As I was here during an abnormally light winter, I’m not sure how accurate this is BUT in either case, do not arrive in Ifrane (in January, if your only doing Spring semester) not brace for the weather. It is the coldest city in Africa.
Taxis (Petite versus Grand Taxis):
Petite Taxis: AUI gates to le marché = 12 Dh, AUI gates to Grand Taxi station = 15 Dh
Grand Taxis: Ifrane Station to Meknés or Fez ≈ 30-40 Dh per person (6 people per taxi)
While it is possible to take Grand Taxis to/from Ifrane, it will likely only be worth it if you travel with a ‘pre-formed’ group of 6 and maybe have a driver you know ahead of time. There are two types of grand taxis: the new and the old. And there is a HUGE difference between them haha. Regardless, you will always make it, مشيئة الله .
Tip 1: Taxis are rare, but not unavailable after 2:00 am. This is another reason why its good to have a few number on hand. If you do find yourself without a taxi in the middle of the night, walk your *sober ass from the bar the back entrance to Hotel Tilleuls to the entryway of the Grand Hotel Ifrane (GH). Out the door, down the street and to the right:
Tip 2: There is a clear etiquette to taxi territories. For example, in Ifrane the petite taxis will cover everything in town. Grande taxis are the only available to take you to other towns. Until very recently, grande taxis could not pick up students at the AUI gate.(* See notes on Taxi Turf Wars.) However, in Rabat
Tip 3: There is a queue. This will seem obvious after a few times, but if your from a small town and this is your first time using any form of public trans, just know this exists. Taxi parked furthest in front in the one available to you. First come, first serve basis of course.
Tip 4: If you take a taxi ride from someone you like and trust, get their number. They won’t be surprised if you ask for it. In fact, they’ll be happy for the business. If you are just arriving, here is number of someone my friend routinely uses: Hassan Atondi: 06 74 31 17 55. It is possible to make it through the semester without having a cab driver saved in your phone but it is much better to have one. Speaking of, you should do your best to manage the phone situation fairly quickly. Again, not everyone has one, but your life will be infinitely easier if you do.
Phones: (You have two options: buy a moroccan phone for ≈150 Dh (15 USD) and charge it OR if you have an iPhone 5 or up you can purchase a Moroccan SIM which is rechargeable for 50, 100, or 150 Dh at the purchase site or even in the on campus store with you CashWallet)
Transportation In/Out of Ifrane:
- CTM buses run from Ifrane to just about anywhere.
- Trains from Meknès/Fez (from Meknès is better though) to reach the major cities. For the schedule google, Les Horaires. Even if you don’t speak French, you’ll be able to read the time table.
- RyanAir/International flights leaving from Rabat or Casa, again to just about anywhere. If your on their e-mail serve list you’ll be able to get flight notifications for new deals. It’s not a bad idea to plan your weekend trips around cheap airplane tickets. They generally run about 25 USD, but I’ve heard of people paying as little as 6 USD and as expensive as 75 USD.
- AUI Carpooling: https://www.facebook.com/groups/173807029409718/
Planning for Spring Break:
People will start planning for spring break sometimes over a month away. Don’t panic. There are so many clubs hosting various trips to the desert, the south, surfing, hiking, etc. that you will not be at a loss for what to do. It’s also very common for people to drift to Spain for the week, because it is so close. If you do choose to go with an AUI group, note that all trips are coordinated not by the administration but by the leaders of whatever club is promoting themselves and their event. The success of their spring break trip doubles as good PR for them. Sign ups are informal (usually by word of mouth, posters, etc.) , but you can visit the Athletics Office in the upstairs of Building 14.
Hamams in Ifrane: Pam (la nom de la quartier within Ifrane), one in le maché , one in Timidikin. Price ≈ 15 Dh + 5 Dh for soap + a few Dh’s for a mat. Self scrub. Wash buckets provided. Three tiered sauna (mild, medium, and hot conjoined steam rooms). Sandals, don’t be ocd about hygiene, and go with a Moroccan friend because Hama experiences are just better that way :).
You can pay more for the spa/Hamam at GH (Grand Hotel) dans le centre ville or splurge and go to a full service Hamam, (or even better a Turkish-Moroccan blended Hamam) when you are in the city (typically Casablanca or Rabat). Price ≈ 100 Dh.
Place List *by Region* of Things You Might Want to Visit (all additions & insights welcome!!!): Rabat, Casablanca, Agadir, Taghazout, Mirleft, Beni Melal, Marrakech, Sahara desert, Merzouga, Ifrane, Azrou, Imouzzer, Meknès, Fez, Nador, Melila, Tétouan, Cuetta, Tangier. This is a basic list of where I went and links to the notes I took from there. Places I did not have time to visit were: Ouazate, Essouaria, and counting… everywhere is on the list!
Course Registration: If you’re an exchange student, they hold your hand. Don’t worry.
Student Cards: Protect it. Cost of replacement is not worth it. And neither the cafés (Cafette or Sodexo) nor campus restaurants (The Grill or the International Resto) will accept cash. Re-fillable at the Business Office by cash in Building 2.
Lost and Found: https://www.facebook.com/groups/716720901731869/ If something is lost, visit Security on the ground floor of Building 9 repeatedly until they get tired of seeing your face. Also, file a description claim even if they say it is not necessary. IF you are as unlucky a soul as myself, and your Residency Card (Carte du Sejour) should be stolen, you need to file this with the police (Abderrafie can help you). If you fail to file the report, you are subject to bigggg fines upon leaving Morocco.