It’s impossible to completely understand a foreign culture. You can be familiar with the language, traditions and identities of another culture but you will never be able to fully grasp its fundamental intricacies as intrinsically as the natives. This, however, should not discourage people from attempting to study and learn different cultural norms.
In Rabat, I think most of the students have at least tried, in one way or another, to adopt certain customs and ways of life. These attempts can be as insignificant as eating meals without utensils or as monumental as converting to another religion. Either way, attempting to assimilate to another culture, even temporarily, shows that you have respect for that culture and its differences.
About two weeks ago, IES Abroad held a mock traditional wedding for all the students. We chose two names out of a hat a few days prior to the marriage; Kazi Hassan and Tiffany Pennamon were the lucky winners. On the day of the wedding, we all gathered at one of the host families’ homes, donning djellabas and kaftans (traditional Moroccan clothing) ready for an endless stream of food platters and dancing.
As foreign as it was for us to dress in Moroccan garb and dance and sing along to songs we didn’t understand, it was the attempt that mattered. We learned a little bit about how traditional Moroccan weddings work and had some fun. As ridiculous as we might have looked to outsiders, we were, at least for the moment, living like locals.
And there are countless other examples, too. Whether it be taking belly dancing lessons, learning how to cook traditional tajines and mint tea, spending hours in a café or simply taking a stroll along Avenue Mohammed V, these all contribute to the advancement of one’s understanding of a place, people and culture.
With less than four weeks until the end of the semester, time is running out to live like a local, at least here in Morocco. But, here’s the good news. There’s still so much to look forward to.
“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Brennan Weiss and I am an aspiring international news reporter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am a Journalism major with French and Global Studies minors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Since spending my freshman year of university in Florence, Italy, I’ve grown to love adventure and travel. I hope my work as an international journalist allows me to navigate the world endlessly until every culture, land, and people has been met.</span></p>