One year, two countries: Bri Levin’s cultural exchange in Japan and Morocco

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One year, two countries: Bri Levin’s cultural exchange in Japan and Morocco

Photo provided by Bri Levin

Photo provided by Bri Levin

Photo provided by Bri Levin

Photo provided by Bri Levin

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Senior Brianna Levin has always had a passion for travel. Even in high school, she heavily considered living abroad. When she came to Mercer, she realized she had a rare opportunity to visit places she had never been before.

Levin studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, her freshman year, but afterwards wished she could have spent more time there. She decided to study abroad again, but this time for a whole year. 

“After (studying abroad in Cape Town), I realized that I had a real passion for cultural exchange,” Levin said. 

Last fall, she studied abroad in Fukuoka, Japan, and spent this past spring in Ifrane, Morocco. 

“I really liked the way my classes were set up in Japan. They were really more relaxed compared to Mercer classes which surprised me, and I had a lot of time to really form relationships with other people,” Levin said.

Levin also found that living in two countries for the year meant adjusting to two different cultures.

“In Japan, the culture is very gentle, and you really have to think about how other people are feeling because it’s a really indirect culture,” she said. “People don’t outright tell you how they’re feeling all the time. So, I think I became better at reading between the lines, and I became a better listener.”

Photo provided by Bri Levin

Morocco’s culture, on the other hand, did not shy away from being direct with one another.

“In Morocco, it was a little difficult at first,” Levin said. “You had to bargain… in stores or with taxi drivers and even with professors when people would try to negotiate when assignments are due.”

During her time abroad, she took a public speaking class in Morocco, where she had to engage in a class discussion on several controversial topics. 

“It was a bit out of my comfort zone because I feel that, at Mercer, in most of my classes, most people have kind of the same opinions, but in Morocco, my class was always split halfway on every issue,” she said. “It was just very cool that we could all respectfully disagree with each other and listen to other points of view that I wouldn’t have heard.” 

One such topic was gender and sexuality, which inspired her final project on same-sex adoption in Morocco, where homosexuality is illegal.  

“I was happy that I could bring my experiences from the U.S. and from having a lot of friends in the LGBT community and show some Moroccan students a different perspective than they had seen growing up. But also learn from them and learn how to express my views while still respecting their culture,” Levin said. 

Levin said spending her junior year abroad was an insightful learning experience. 

“I’m so glad that I (went abroad) because I got to experience more of the world,” Levin said. “And I got to gain more experiences than from staying in one place.” 

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