For this post, I’d like to share with you what my daily life is like living in Rabat.
Each morning begins around 7:00 am. I start the day with a very rushed breakfast with my host mother and roommate which always consists of some type of bread and tea, with the options of adding honey or butter (sometimes cheese on a good day) to the bread. I take my packed lunch that my host family makes for me and head out the door for the walk to school with my friend. It’s almost a 30 minute walk from my home in the medina through the streets of downtown Rabat to school. Quick word to the wise- invest in an umbrella. It’s been down pouring lately, and it isn’t always easy to find a taxi when you want one.
The school day always begins with Arabic at 8:30 am, five days a week. I’m in the beginner’s level, and to be honest, I thought I would know more Arabic by now. We are already halfway through the semester and we have still not finished learning the alphabet. The rest of the day, classes vary. As a French major, I am taking three courses in French (French language, Maghrebian Literature, and Islam in Morocco). I also attend Darija (the Moroccan dialect) class to try and pick up useful phrases to use in the streets or with my family. I spend my whole day at the center until 6:00 pm, a little after it closes. The center is nice because (usually) the wifi is decent and there’s a fridge, microwave, and free tea. There is also a tent in the back and one on the roof. It’s an ideal place to get your work done, socialize, or nap (in the tents).
After class, I sometimes go to a cafe with friends. It’s usually just to get out somewhere that isn’t home or school. If I don’t go to a cafe, I often stop to get a snack in the medina. This is usually sfenj (sugary fried donut). It smells too good every time I walk past, so how can I say no? It’s only 1 dirham! But as it gets dark, I return home. A difficult thing about living in Rabat is that you can’t really go out at night, especially not alone. Apparently it isn’t so safe, and traditionally, women don’t go out on their own late into the evenings. Therefore my nights consist of tea time and dinner with the host family, showering, homework, and time to talk with friends and family back home. The exception is on the weekends when we go out in larger groups to either restaurants in Agdal or travels to other cities in Morocco.
Living in the medina is always exciting though! There are a lot of people of all ages coming and going constantly, so many shops, delicious smells, bad smells, curious cats, random unleashed dogs… you never know what to expect. Except catcalls.
Always expect the catcalls. It’s terribly annoying and sometimes downright disgusting. A few nights ago, it was starting to get late and my roommate and I were on our way home. Tired and exhausted, wanting to desperately get home to drink tea and sleep, we were unable to return as we pleased. Why? Because we were being followed by a small group of guys desperately trying to get our attention. We went out of our way as to not lead them directly to our door. It’s an everyday problem, the harassment. It’s a big problem. And there is no law against it. It ranges from a simple “Ça va?”, to “Beautiful eyes”, to “Hey sexy”, to “F you.”, especially if they get mad. What’s the worst is if they make physical contact. I’ve had my hair pulled; I’ve been pinched a few times. And there have been a few too many that have come way too close to me to feed me their favorite line. I’ve become so numb to all of the words and comments, but it’s the following and the gross looks I get that always creep me out. I know this does still happen in America, but I swear it is not as bad there as it is here.
Overall, I’m enjoying Rabat. I’ve really liked learning about the muslim culture and being surrounded by this new environment that heavily reflects the traditions of religion, the influence of Europe, and the Amazhig culture. Personally, I enjoy hearing the call to prayer five times a day. I also find hearing the mix of Arabic, Darija, French, and English everyday complicated but entertaining. I always eavesdrop and think, “what can I understand in this conversation?” It usually turns out that I only understand the words “shwiya”, “mashii mushkiil”, or “inchaallah”. Needless to say, I hope to improve my Arabic as much as possible in the time that I have left.
As for now, less than two months remain and I’ve a Spring break trip to enjoy.
More to come!
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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);">Hello, everyone! I am Meghan Johns, a 20-year-old student who comes from the small, but lovely Carthage College in Wisconsin. I study studio art, art history, and the French language there, but I am really excited to begin learning Arabic in Morocco. In my free time, I draw and write music. Traveling is always a must on my to-do list. I cannot wait to see what Rabat has to offer. You can guess how excited I am to start my adventures there this next semester, but the only thing I'll love more than having them is sharing them, with you.</span></p>