Observations of Morocco

Madison Sommers
February 11, 2013

I’ve been here over a week and have so many experiences that already I am overwhelmed. Morocco is not what I expected it to be and I would like to share some of my observations.


1. Morocco is really green. There are so many more trees and grass than I expected. In the States there is this perception of Morocco as just sand dunes and camels, but in reality that is only in a small part of the country (Western Sahara not included). There are huge palm trees, parks, and flowers everywhere, not to mention fields of mint and hedges of cacti that you see as you drive through the country side.


2. Moroccan women are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They will literally give you the shoes off their feet (yes, this did happen to me) and even if you don’t speak Darija, will do their utmost to make you feel welcome and teach you their culture. I have had long conversations in French with my host mother about Moroccan culture and politics and have learned to make tea and couscous, the latter from a woman who spoke no English or French. We got by on my very limited Darija and gestures.


3. Moroccan men are generally harmless, but some will catcall you. It is really awkward to have strange men talking to you, or to be called fromage, and to be whistled at by a policeman, but after a week it has become fairly normal. The thing to remember is that it isn’t about you; it’s about these men showing off for their friends. It’s an accomplishment to be able to catcall fluently in at least three languages, and they do say some hilarious things in their stumbling attempts (one of my recent favorites is “no make paranoia!”). The best thing is just to put your game face on and to ignore it.


4. I used to think that the French ate the most bread of anywhere in the world, but the Moroccans make the French look like amateurs. Not only is the diet here composed of mainly carbohydrates, but they have typically two types of bread at each meal, sometimes more if it’s breakfast that we’re talking about. We eat bread with every meal, including putting pasta on bread, potatoes on bread, french-fry sandwiches, leftovers on bread to make a sandwich, and everything you could possibly imagine.


5. Morocco has a reputation for being hot, but it is COLD here. Right now it’s warmer in Spain than it is here. That is partly due to the fact that it is still technically winter, but the real kicker is that Moroccan buildings and streets, at least in the medina, are designed to keep cool in. When you walk into the narrow sloping streets of the medina from the wide open street the temperature drops about five degrees. In the houses it’s even colder. I wear at least two layers to bed every night and sleep under heavy blankets and am still sometimes cold. The tea helps warm you up, but only while you’re holding it. Once your glass is empty, it’s back to perpetually cold fingers.


6. nSha Allah is the favorite phrase of Moroccans. It literally translates to “God willing” but it is used for everything, sometimes to disconcerting effect. For instance, get in the taxi, and you tell him where you’re going and he says “nSha Allah,” or simply has it on a decal across the back of his cab. You tell your host family that your going to bed and what time you’re planning on getting up in the morning and the response is, “nSha Allah.” Slightly disconcerting, but contagious. I am already starting to use  the phrase.


7. There is a ton of history in Morocco that never gets taught in American schools. There is a good amount of roman history here and the Moroccan history is fascinating in its own right.


8. There are cats everywhere here.


So do I like Morocco? Yes of course! It’s a beautiful country and even though I’ve only been here a week and am in the thick of culture shock and adjustment, I know that I will enjoy my semester here.

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Madison Sommers

<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);">I am a third-year student at Saint Michael&#39;s College in Vermont majoring in Gender Studies with a double minor in Philosophy and Political Science. I hope to attend law school after graduation, and want to work with women who are victims of domestic violence. I also have a fascination with neurology and would like to find some way to combine the two. I enjoy traveling and lived abroad in France after graduating early from high school. My current home is in New Hampshire with my parents, sister, dog, and two cats. I love cooking, knitting, reading, and art, and am looking forward to experiencing Moroccan culture. I have always had a passion for gender issues and am excited to study gender from a Moroccan perspective. I hope I can share my experience of Moroccan culture with you.</span></p>

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