I’m in Morocco now, in my host family’s living room! I left on the 1st and I’ve been away from home for a week. Ever since then, my days have been crazily packed. Here’s a quick rundown on what I’ve been doing. There are lot of pictures at the end of the post as well.
- A long thirty-six hour day of travel. I left Raleigh-Durham at 10 in the morning and arrived at Dulles an hour later, then stayed there until our 10pm flight to Frankfurt, wandering around the airport and looking at all the people and places. The other five YES Abroad Morocco kids came at four-ish, so we got to really meet each other (since PDO was so tightly packed) for a few hours. We arrived at Frankfurt and then we boarded our three-hour flight to Casablanca. Then we took a 1.5 hour bus ride to Rabat. I love love love airports and planes, so although the day was tiring, it was worth it to see all different people and hear different languages. Also I ate a really good mushroom consommé in Germany that was so worth the ten euros.
- Three days of orientation with AMIDEAST! AMIDEAST is an NGO that has a strong presence in Rabat: they offer English classes, provide TOEFL tests and such, and do a lot more of expanding intercultural education. AMIDEAST runs YES Abroad here in Morocco, and they provide lots of support during our year. The organization runs both YES Abroad and NSLI-Y, and the NSLI-Y students will be here in a week.
- During our days of orientation, we six students stayed in a hotel in Agdal, a neighborhood of Rabat (our city). Both the AMIDEAST office and my host family’s house are also in Agdal. After orientation, we moved into our host families.
- I enjoyed orientation a lot, and we spent those three days either traveling around Rabat or in AMIDEAST rooms, learning about living in Morocco. Colleen, our programs officer, taught us how to take the tram, ride a taxi, pay in a café/restaurant, etc.—and the six of us YES Abroad students definitely peppered her with lots and lots of questions. We also learned about Moroccan society and culture, safety, and program rules. And we took two two-hour Survival Darija (Moroccan Arabic) classes that were helpful, since Darija isn’t written down so it’s really only helpful to speak it all the time, which is great because we get to practice now with our host mom 🙂
- Food! During orientation, Colleen took us to a few really delicious restaurants in Rabat. They were more splurgy-type restaurants instead of everyday fare, but I love food and I take pictures of everything so there’ll be lots of food pictures at the end of this post. I’m eating a lot more Moroccan food now, now that I’m with my host family, and I like it a lot.
- Yesterday was our first day of school at Madaris Assalam, a Moroccan school. We’ll be attending Madaris Assalam until May. School should deserve its own blog post, so I’ll save that for later (and when I know more about our school, since I’ve only been there for two school days). But everyone is so, so welcoming! It’s nice. A lot, but nice. I’m in the PC (physique-chimie) track, which is the physics track. We didn’t have full schedules yesterday or today; as a result, so far we’ve had math, physics, and English class. Again, I still haven’t experienced too much of school, but math is common-core-ish Calc AB/BC, physics is almost everything (E&M, mechanics, nuclear physics) and is very much tied in with chemistry, since physics and chemistry are combined. English is… a nice experience.
- I hear Darija constantly in the streets, and French occasionally.
- School comes with buying school supplies. That is a whole other experience. An experience that I’ll describe in a later post because it also deserves a later post.
- My spoken French wasn’t too good before coming here, but I’m gaining confidence as I speak more at school, at home, and on the streets.
- We took a swim test yesterday at a pool in Agdal–for surfing purposes.
- We’re doing a scavenger hunt around Rabat with our language partners tomorrow after school.
- Eid al-Adha is next week, and we have almost the whole week off from school. Most of our host families are traveling, and bringing us exchange students.
- Being in Morocco is a constant challenge, but that’s a good thing. Cultural and language faux pas are inevitable, but okay. It’s been great so far! There’s always so much to write about, but not enough time. I’ve been journaling every day, but it’s more like a short end-of-day thing because it’s always important to get eight hours of sleep.
And for the pictures…