Olivia Mulford speaks a language many consider difficult. The 21-year-old UW student has studied Arabic for the past three years of her college career. She’s utilized her language skills twice while studying abroad – once in Morocco last summer and again in South Africa where she is currently enrolled in the University of Cape Town.
The study of Arabic is in high demand for US government employees, something Oliva hopes will be to her benefit, and yet it is still not commonly studied by Americans. Over 200 million people in Northern Africa (countries like Morocco, Libya and Egypt) and the Middle East speak the language.
During her first few years as a college student, Mulford trained on the UW Rowing Team. As a rower, her rigorous training schedule required her to be on campus during both semesters. She initially only had the opportunity to go abroad to Morocco over the summer term for nine weeks.
When she no longer trained with the Rowing Team starting in Fall 2017, she realized she had the opportunity to study abroad for an entire semester. Since the opportunity for Mulford to study abroad arose last minute, many of the programs’ deadlines had already passed when she applied. She ended up choosing South Africa because she heard positive feedback about Cape Town and the program offered many Arabic classes. Arabic is not a commonly spoken language there, but she said the classes she’s enrolled in are helping her keep up her proficiency in the language.
Mulford loves her South African program based in Cape Town, where she continues meeting new people and experiencing the culture of South Africa.