During my time in Morocco, I wanted to feel at home in Rabat. Part of studying abroad is exploring new cities and traveling to nearby countries. I did want to do weekend trips (and I did a few!). But I promised myself I’d stay in Rabat for the first weekend to explore and find my own space in the city. I am so glad that I did because it made my time in Rabat feel more like home.
At first, it was challenging to navigate Rabat. Men dominate many spaces in Morocco - it is just a cultural reality. For example, there were a lot of cafè's where there were only men. As a woman, I was allowed in these cafès. But, it wasn't an environment I wanted to be in. So, I generally avoided these cafès and went to the ones that had a mix of men, women, and young people. I found these cafès by asking local university students for suggestions.
I did a lot of cafe hopping my first weekend in Rabat to find cafès I liked. Cafè culture is strong in Morocco, it’s common for people to go to a cafè, order their drinks, and spend a lot of time there. And I really enjoyed that. To be honest, I went to a cafè at least once a day. Cafès were my favorite place to study and hang out! I also discovered a Moroccan drink called ns-ns. It literally means half-half. The drink is half espresso and half milk. It quickly became my favorite thing to order at cafès.
I love being near the water, and Rabat is right next to the ocean. I spent a lot of time on the coast. The first time I walked along the coast, I found it is incredibly beautiful. A must-see if you're in Rabat. Parts of the coastline have these large boulders sticking out of the ocean that are so picturesque. Ever since that first weekend, I watched the sunset at the beach at least a few times a week.
I loved exploring the medina, which was the neighborhood I lived in. The medina is known as the old city. The medina is something you just have to experience to fully understand. It’s a huge neighborhood that feels like a bustling maze. Small shops line the main streets of the medina that sell everything. I’m convinced you can find everything you’d ever want in the medina. The sides streets were much quieter because these streets were lined with homes.
I also wandered around Oudayas - a beautiful picturesque part of Rabat. The walls of this neighborhood are half white, half blue. It is incredibly gorgeous. In Oudayas, there’s a cafe called Cafe Maure, they serve tea and cookies and looks over the ocean. Adjacent to the cafe is the Andalusian Gardens. I called this the cat garden because about 100 cats chill there. The cats are friendly and they get fed and watered every day so they’re living a good life. I would go to the garden to read and visit with the friendly felines.
I navigated Rabat and found my favorite places to be. At first, it was challenging, because some spaces just felt a little uninviting to women. But as I lived there, I became more familiar with the city and more comfortable navigating the city. I was able to find my spaces in Rabat and feel at home.
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<p>Hi! I'm Skylar. I'm a senior at Hope College, majoring in Chemistry on the premed track. The semester I study abroad is my last semester and I will graduate (and apply to medical school) when I come back to the States! I am thrilled I get to study abroad before I graduate. I am so excited to share the adventures I have while I study abroad in Rabat, Morocco with you all. After 3.5 years of all science all the time, I am looking forward to taking a break and explore Morocco with IES Abroad. I am most looking forward to learning Arabic and living with a host family.<br><br>Fun Fact: A few summers ago I drove from Michigan to California to hike in Yosemite and see a total eclipse!</p>