So I have arrived successfully in Morocco and have been very much welcomed by everyone! Flying internationally went surprisingly well on this trip, despite some turbulence on the way to Paris where I had to make one connection. I didn’t know I had to go through security a second time when connecting there, so take note of that if you ever need to transfer planes. (Drink the rest of your water before entering the security area so you don’t get embarrassed when you have to chug your water in front of security personnel.) After meeting everyone at the airport in Rabat, we spent the first night in Morocco at a nice hotel. It felt surreal (still does) to actually BE here. I have to keep reminding myself, “I am in Morocco!”. I was able to meet up with my friend who is a local of Rabat who took me for a short walk around the city. I am really excited to begin living there, but I can’t do that just yet. I am currently in the city of Fes, where we traveled to start our orientation.
In Fes we live in pairs with Moroccan host families. We are here for almost two weeks. Enough time to come to love our families… but not long enough to really settle down. My host family has two young boys, ages ten and three. They are all very sweet and welcoming, however, I am only able to communicate well enough with my host mother because she can speak a little French and English. We all get along and laugh often (honestly I’m not exactly sure why or what we are laughing about sometimes, but it’s good bonding anyway!), and we eventually get our points across the table with a lot of hand gestures. Never knew I’d get so good at signing.
Life here is very different than back at home. There are cats everywhere in the streets. I can hear them fighting at night. I am told that we are lucky that our host family in Fes has a gas tank to heat the shower and that we have a normal toilet seat. It is very, very cold right now in February. Most families do not have central heating so we bundle up, and at night we sleep with a lot of blankets.
The food is really delicious, and I was very surprised that it all tastes so good! I don’t eat a very wide variety of foods at home, but here I’ve decided to try everything presented to me by my host family. I even ate the small plate of chopped up peppers my host mother gave me with lunch one afternoon. My host mom always says “koul koul koul!” which can translate to “eat” (as she forces more food onto our plates). With this, I am always full after every meal. If there is dessert, it is usually clementines. To my surprise, they are still satisfying despite the feeling of being so unbearably full. Each meal consists of a lot of vegetables, a lot of bread, and a small portion of meat sometimes. Many families make their own bread at public bakeries near their homes. If you love bread, come to Morocco! We eat it with every meal. It is usually all we have for breakfast here in Fes, too. (Being a carb-oholic, I really love the mornings here- bread with butter or Nutella and some hot tea… Yum.) People drink tea all of the time! (In rather small, glass cups might I add) I really love it. Even though I was not a big tea drinker back at home, here it is very sweet and it warms me in this cold weather.
Here is a picture of a delicious lunch we had one day. (Yes, those are homemade french fries in the middle!)
Living in the medina, there are no cars. The streets are too small. (Well, I lied. There are some cars in some areas, but it’s still very difficult to drive through the medina! I give them credit.) Sometimes a man with a few donkeys will pass by our door and my host mother always says, “taxi mdina” and laughs. So if her words are true, I could hop on this donkey and it could take me where I need to go. However I’m pretty sure I can walk much faster than these guys, so I think I will pass.
Each morning, we take a “petit taxi” (not a donkey, a small red car) to our school. It costs usually just $1.00 to get there! It isn’t too far. We walk back when the weather is nice. Of course, we all (we, girls) get catcalls by the men here. For them, it’s a way to show off. (And some of them are pretty hilarious.) We are told to simply ignore them all together. Before coming here, we were instructed to have a guy in our group when walking, but seeing that there is only one guy in the program this Spring… This is impossible. Our first day in Fes, my roommate and I were followed for a couple blocks by one guy who was constantly asking for Euros. Luckily, we eventually lost him once we turned around. Overall, it’s not bad though. I do not feel afraid here.
We’ve found a nice (“American-friendly”) cafe in the medina called Cafe Clock where we hang out with one another and use their wifi gratuit. It feels good to get out of our host houses once in awhile. Not that we don’t love them, but going out somewhere that isn’t class is refreshing.
I have really enjoyed the experience of living with a Moroccan family in the middle of the Fes medina. It’s a little frustrating that I cannot become too comfortable with this city or this house because next week we have to pack up and start all over again in Rabat, but I do appreciate being able to experience both cities. The girls (and guy) in the program are all super friendly and together we’re discovering our ways through Moroccan daily life in this crazy city of Fes!
A video of Fes will be coming soon! Enchaallah.
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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>