After spending three months living in a gorgeous Moroccan family home in Rabat’s Old Medina, I’ve put together a list of my favorite parts (so far!)
5. Beautiful Riad
The first time I walked into my host family’s home, I was in awe. The woodworking around the ceilings, the colorful tile, and the three stories of terraces on top. Every day I’m amazed I get to live in such an incredible building, with history quite literally written on the walls in the form of such beautiful tile work. I’m always discovering new nooks and details and other interesting features to the house that are made with great love.
4. Built-in Guide to the Country
Host parents are great for many things: comfort, someone to talk to, but best of all they are great for advice. My host family consists of dozens of members, all natives of Rabat, and all knowing every nook and cranny of Morocco. Whenever I travel, or am looking for something specific, they always have poignant advice to give on where to find the best tagine or look out points. Having a local perspective on my experiences is incredibly valuable, and also helps me gauge prices! Vendors will often raise prices for tourists, so knowing the standard rate and how to haggle is incredibly important for us Americans. Speak a little Arabic to the vendors, though, and they’ll normally give a discount.
Both my Arabic and my French would not be even close to the level it is now without the constant language practice in the household. It’s been a fantastic way to pick up on new vocabulary and practice grammar. My host family are seasoned hosts and know how to communicate with American students at all levels of language learning. Constant language practice is one of the most essential parts of language learning, and even though I’m taking both French and Arabic classes through IES Abroad, I feel like I’ve learned the most from being able to speak so often.
2. Cultural Immersion
Living in a Riad with a Moroccan family has taught me so much about Islam and Moroccan culture. Being in Morocco in the spring, I’ve been present for both Ramadan and Eid el Ftour. Getting to experience these holidays in a Muslim family has been such an honor and has given me an in-depth view of the traditions that surround them. In daily life as well, the only way to become aware of the subtle differences is through living together and experiencing them firsthand. Such an important part of living abroad is getting to experience a new culture, and there’s no better level than being completely embedded.
1. The Food!
Of course, nobody can forget the food. Nothing I’ve had in any restaurant, both in and outside Morocco, can compare to the delicacies my host mom cooks up. They are always fabulous, imbued with local flavors and lots of love. Three meals a day, seven days a week, I am given the honor of enjoying recipes that have been made by her hands longer than I’ve been alive, and being transported, gustatorily, deeper into this new world that is all around me.
More Blogs From This Author
Zoe Carver is a second-year student of International Affairs and Peace Studies at the George Washington University, minoring in French and Creative Writing. She is originally from Portland, Oregon and is apart of GW's Literary Magazine, Model UN team, and Student Climate Coalition. She just finished a positon interning in the United States Senate, and has a deep love for crocheting.