Lillian participated in the Morocco 2017-2018 academic year program.
As of today, I have only 2 months left in this amazing country. Now that I’ve been living here for well over 6 months, I think that I have learned a lot about Morocco. I wanted to take a minute to talk about the things that I’m grateful for, and what I’m going to miss when I leave. I think that I am still the same person as I was when I came, but I will take certain parts of Morocco with me throughout the rest of my life. This year has really been a rollercoaster. I have gone through stages of absolutely not wanting to be in Morocco, and stages of never wanting to leave. Exchange is hard, and I’ve realized that it’s not always perfect. No country is ideal and there will always be things I don’t like, anywhere I go. At the end of the day though, I love this country whole-heartedly. I love my life here, and I am so happy to have been given this opportunity.
Sure, North Dakota has a pretty sky. However, the sky here is breathtaking. I have hundreds of pictures of it. It is so large, and always filled with beautiful colors, clouds, and birds. No matter where I go in Rabat, the sky is always stunning.
WARM, FUZZY BLANKETS
Contrary to popular belief, Morocco can be very cold. Sure, the dead of winter may have never dropped below 45 degrees, but keep in mind that there is absolutely no indoor heating. Because of this, I spent many a night huddled in my room, trying not to let my fingers turn blue. Because of this predicament, there is an abundance of fuzzy blankets unlike any blanket I’ve seen before. They are comparable to fleece blankets, but much softer, heavier, and fuzzier. Sometimes your host mom gives you 4 and they are so heavy you can’t breathe, but goodness are they warm.
I think that the only time I have ever experienced true silence here was deep in the mountains near Sidi Ifni. In general, life here is very loud. In my house, the T.V. is on basically 100% of the time. Often there is also some kind of music playing, screaming from my host brother, clanging from the kitchen, and sounds of children running in the apartment above mine. Multiple times, I have been woken from sleep to loud music or the sounds of gnawa from the street. In the streets, it is always bustling in full of noise. I’m guessing all of this is mostly because I live in a city, but I’m definitely going to miss it.
FEELING OF TOGETHERNESS
In the US, I tend to need at LEAST 2 hours of alone time each day. Here, I get so bored I feel like I’m going crazy if I’m alone for more than maybe 30 minutes. At the start, I used to lock myself in my room often. I think that this is one of the biggest ways Morocco has “changed” me. Even if I’m just typing a blog post or reading a book, I like to be in a cafe, or in some kind of communal space. I don’t see the point in spending time alone any more, I like the energy and vibe that comes with other people. That’s common here, people don’t tend to isolate themselves much. I think that when I go back to the US, I will rarely even close my door, what’s the point?
EATING WITH MY HANDS
I use utensils maybe 5 times a week here. Most meals are eaten with hands, and bread is often used as a utensil. Honestly, I love eating with my hands!! What’s the point in using a utensil if I don’t need it? Obviously I still will pull out a trusty fork for things like pasta or salad, but in general, I just dig in. I’m definitely bringing this habit back to the US with me… I used to even eat things like pizza with a fork, and that just seems ridiculous to me now.
TIME, NOT WATCHES
There’s a saying that MANY Moroccans have told me, and it goes “In America you have watches, in Morocco we have time.” It sounds a bit cliche to me at this point, but I can’t deny that it is true. Rarely do I get up in the morning and make a schedule of exactly what I am going to do. I kinda just let myself float, and see what happens. A lunch date with a friend may turn into a 6 hour ordeal, and that’s fine. I have learned to enjoy what I am doing RIGHT NOW, rather than looking ahead and worrying about how I’m going to get everything done.
I have spent hours upon hours just chilling in cafes reading, talking, working, and sometimes just staring into space. At most cafes, you can buy one 9 dh tea and sit for as many hours as you like. Whenever my friends and I don’t know what to do, we just go to a cafe and hang out. I somehow never get bored, and it’s really nice. I think that my record is 6 consecutive hours in one cafe.
Hanoots are amazing, and they have literally everything that you could ever want. It is nice to walk out my front door, and have everything I need available to me. I can stock up on fruit, snacks, minutes for my phone, newspapers, shampoo, everything. I also love talking to the hanoot owners. I go to 2 different hanoots regularly, and the owners know me fairly well at this point. Sometimes the one by AMIDEAST even has a conversation with me, which is always cool and fun.
I don’t take a lot of taxis except if I’m sick, tired, or need to be somewhere really fast. They are everywhere, and are SO easily accessible. They are also not very expensive, I don’t think I’ve ever had a cab cost more than 25 DH ($2.50). I’m really glad to have them always around, and I think I’m going to miss them a lot. It’s also often a good opportunity to practice my Darija!
SUNDAY MORNING BREAKFAST
Most mornings, I leave the house before my host mom and brother even wake up. My mom usually wakes up, cooks me breakfast, and then goes back to sleep. I don’t mind eating alone because I’m usually rushing out the door anywaym. On Sundays, everything is more relaxed. I try not to ever leave the house before 3 pm on a Sunday, because having that lazy time is great. Although I’m up by 8 usually, my host family doesn’t wake up until 10ish. We have a really lazy breakfast, usually msmen and harcha. I drink copious amounts of tea, my host brother watches youtube videos, and we all just hang out and relax. It’s great bonding time with them!
I hope that you enjoyed this blog post and thank you for reading!