Saturdays with Rhim

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Cayt Holzman
November 30, 2016

One Saturday, I really had to get some homework done but I also wanted to get out of the house, so I packed up my laptop and notebooks and headed out to find a café to post up at. I remembered a café that I’ve studied at before with a friend, and knew they had good hot chocolate at. After I got to the café, I sat down and after ordering, asked for the wifi password for my computer. It’s very common here for the waiter at a café to type in the wifi password for you instead of just saying it, so I turned my computer towards him. The waiter, most likely being used to a French keyboard, couldn’t figure out how to type the ‘@’ symbol on my English keyboard. He called over a girl to type it in for him, and she did, and I got internet access, and that was that for a while.

            However, a bit later, the girls mom (who I later learn works there) comes up to me and asks if I can help her daughter with her homework. This conversation took a while. As many of my conversations are, it was spoken in a weird hybrid of French, English, and Arabic, interchangeably using vocab and grammar from all three languages to form strange, halting sentences. I agreed to help and sat down at the girl’s table. She was working on English, her third language. It was a lesson about careers and different characteristics certain people in certain careers should have, and it took us about and hour to get through. It was really nice; she was eager to learn and took her time to read out the questions and only really needed me when she came across a difficult word.

            Once we were done, she wanted to help me learn more Arabic. It was rough because at that point, I had learned the alphabet, but didn’t know how to spell anything. We practiced writing sentences and phrases on napkins and got to talking. Her name’s Rhim and she’s middle school aged. We talked a lot about stuff we like and school and Morocco and America. We talked about our families and I showed her pictures of mine. She loves taking selfies; we probably took a hundred different selfies with a dozen different filters making all kinds of crazy faces. We talked for so long that it started to get dark and I had to go home. I know that she’s there with her mom on Saturdays, so when I’m not out of town, I go back to the café to see her.

            When I was in Spain for fall break, I saw a Starbucks and thought of Rhim. She had told me that she loves Starbucks. I wasn’t sure if she meant the coffee or just the aesthetic of it, but I went in and bought her a mug anyway. When I got back to Rabat and gave it to her, she let out this excited, American-sounding “Ohmagawd!!”. It just cracked me up; I had never heard such a fluid, English phase from her before. I can’t wait to meet up with her again this Saturday.


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Cayt Holzman

<p>Hi! I&#39;m Cayt and I study anthropology and French at Penn State. I&#39;m studying abroad to further my education and I&#39;m here to share my experiences with anyone who wants to read them.</p>

2016 Fall
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