Hello March 3rd! Hello six month mark! Hello blog that I really should update more often about real details from my life!
(It’s actually March 4th and it’s raining pretty hard right now outside—which is partially why I’m writing this blog post. I’m also feeling rather introspective right now, which probably won’t last, so… there you have it.)
Looks like it’ll get almost to 80 this week though! …despite the coldness today.
Which brings me to my first minor f*ckup:
1. Six months in, still not having taken the 5 minutes it takes to learn the metric system
To me, 40 degrees Celsius = really hot, 20 degrees Celsius = pretty good, 0 degrees Celsius = cold af. And 100 degrees is boiling. But anything in between those benchmarks = ???
I can look at a weather report in Celsius and know basically how comfortable it’ll be. But I’m so much more functional in Fahrenheit because I know exactly how certain temperatures tend to feel like. So I gravitate toward looking at weather in Fahrenheit so I have a better sense. This means that whenever weather reports come on the news I just space out. It also means that I’ve been in this country for six months and I still rely on Google search for the weather (10/10 would not recommend to future exchange students, learn Celsius so you can be a functional human being and know what the heck people are talking about when they talk about the weather)
I have a better sense of liquid measurements (liters, milliliters) because I baked in metric at home and because I like to know how much of a food/drink I get before I buy it. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for weather because
- I really don’t care that much about the temperature. Rabat is nice all the time. It’s either nice + rain (a little less nice) or nice – rain (a lot more nice). As for clothes, I usually find myself wearing similar types of layers because I get warm when I walk anyway.
- Going off #1, I mostly check the weather so I can know if it’ll rain or not. That’s it.
Unfortunately I also don’t know about exact measurements in meters. This also means that I’m confused when I hear people talking about how tall they are.
Also km/h?? That one’s easy because the conversion math to miles/hour is easy and fast, but it’s still not intuitive yet for me. Like I know what 70 mph feels like and what 45 mph feels like, but none of that is intuitive when it comes to kilometers. At least I know what 6 km/h is like because that’s the speed I set the treadmill to at the gym—it’s a brisk walk, fast enough to count as exercise but slow enough so that I can still concentrate on streaming Girls or A Series of Unfortunate Events from my phone.
I’m pretty good with kilograms, though, because I can multiply and divide by two in my head!! (shh don’t tell me it’s 2.2)
Here’s a nice guide to metric from xkcd, partially for my own future reference:
2. Being too confident and arrogant for my own good when it comes to taking chances with food
Me for the first six months: I’m not going to get sick! I haven’t gotten food poisoning yet and I’ve never had food poisoning in my life so I guess I’m immune! The only time I had diarrhea here was during my first week when I started drinking tap water and after that I’ve been completely fine whatever sheep head or juice or street food item I’ve had!! I’ll eat whatever the heck I want!
Me at six months and one day: Oh shit looks like I have food poisoning
10/10 wouldn’t recommend. I’m recovering from food poisoning now and today was the first time in like five days that I’ve had solid shits instead of explosive diarrhea.
Also another related fuck up (haha these are going to be endless): two days ago, I took a Benadryl for the second time in my life. Harmless over-the-counter pill that everyone takes, right? Anyway, I took one capsule at 3:30 PM (because WebMD told me it would prevent nausea) and it made me sleep from 4 PM to 8 AM while waking up once to drink water and go to the bathroom. That is sixteen hours of sleep. At least I felt better the day after. I’m really sorry for my host mom though, because she thought something was seriously wrong with me because I was completely passed out and nothing could wake me up.
3. Putting henna on my hair without putting gloves on my fingers
PSA: Henna is permanent. It’s just not permanent on your skin because you keep on shedding skin cells (becomes evident once you spend an hour or two in the hammam and scrub all that dead skin off). But on your fingernails, hair, etc…. it’s permanent.
I could have totally evaded this but 1) I kind of got lazy, and 2) I kind of wanted to see if it would actually stain my fingernails.
Update: it did.
I did buy nail polish with the intention of covering my fingernails up, but now I’ve changed my mind and instead I think I’m just going to let my nails be like this because it’s a nice conversation starter, both in the hammam and elsewhere.
I did apply a ton of henna to my hair (as you can see from the fingernails, it’s an orange stain and my friend Isabel had a lot of success with her hair), but I got more of the health benefits of henna and less of the color change because I have very dark hair to begin with.
I haven’t mentioned this on my blog before, but one of the things I really like to do here is go to the hammam. It’s a steamy hot single gender public bath where you can socialize for hours and rub off all your dead skin while taking a bucket shower. I absolutely love it. My gym has a built-in one-room hammam so that’s the one I usually go to each week, but real hammams have three rooms (one cold, one medium, one hot), a lot more people, and better hot water lol.
Here’s another hammam minor fuck up: one of the first times I went to the hammam, when I brought my body wash and started scrubbing myself with that as a time saver because it was what I had at the time. N O !!! Do not do this!! Always use savon beldi (Moroccan soap made from olive oil). It moisturizes your skin as you remove all your dead skin cells. Body wash is also full of chemicals. I was given this speech by the woman next to me in the hammam and I’ve never been more thankful in my life. (Also people will think you’re hammam novice af if you scrub with body wash.)
4. Watching too many recipe videos on Facebook
I haven’t written on this blog about school yet, but I’m in deuxième année bac (second year baccalaureate prep), which means that everyone is (you guessed it) preparing for their big exam in June that will determine if they get a high-school diploma and get into a good college. It’s a ton of pressure for all of my Moroccan classmates. It also means that school is essentially all bac prep, which kind of makes me space out. Because at first it’s interesting to learn about the system, but then your teacher says for the nth time that the bac is the most important exam you’ll ever take and you’re not prepared and you’re not studying enough and you’re not absorbing this material and are your heads made out of stone etc etc etc.
As an American student who’s been done with standardized tests since last May and who won’t take the bac (you could say this is foreigner privilege, and I’d say yes it is here in Morocco, but I’ve also taken 13 AP exams and the SAT and the ACT and three SAT subject tests lol, most of which was concentrated in my junior year of high school), I honestly am bored in class and I don’t think academics are my point here anyway since you know, I have all of college to learn whatever I want and I’m here for cultural exchange.
I am also very into food and very into videos that show you how to make food. So then I watch food videos during class and during free periods and whenever I’m waiting for the tram or on the tram etc. etc. (btw: cellphone data in Morocco is so cheap and so fast, 50 dirhams = 5 dollars = 5 gigs, lasts me forever).
This is not good for two reasons:
- Tasty/Tastemade/Get In My Belly/etc and its country specific versions usually have nothing to do with Morocco, and a better way to spend my time here is to actually learn about making Moroccan food.
- I’m now part of Facebook groups that share/reshare these videos (ty Catherine for introducing me) and I am SO into them. Examples: awful recipes: recipes for disaster, awful recipes 2: electric boogaloo, awesome recipes: welcome to flavortown, flavortown rebels: terrible recipes we would still obviously love to make
- Yeah. It’s getting out of hand and it’s a huge time consumer. Because I “like” or “heart” almost all of the recipes I see, they tend to show up first on my feed now and I have to scroll through like twenty of these recipe videos before I get to real wholesome content.
- It makes me crave bad junk food. Like ramen noodles with lobster and cheese, and “cheeseburger spring rolls” which is literally ground beef and cheese rolled into a tortilla and fried.
- Watching tasty videos during class (also everything else I do to pass the time, including journaling, scrolling through Instagram, and reading books) signals to the teacher that I care more about food than the material taught. Which is partially true, but… still, not a glorious thing to rub in anyone’s face. Also a sign of disrespect toward authority which is less culturally okay here. unfortunately still have that #foreignerprivilege though
Anyway, my Moroccan classmates have this exam, but I don’t, and for some reason I’m instead watching recipe videos on Facebook that I shouldn’t be watching this much.
One positive of these recipe videos, though, is that they helped me increase my appetite when I had food poisoning a few days ago and couldn’t stomach anything except for one 70-calorie banana.
5. Buying fifteen dirham ($1.50) pants from the medina
Okay, so they weren’t that expensive, and I know, the price you pay is the quality you get. Still, it’s kind of annoying when you wash them once and wear them twice and then there’s a huge hole in the crotch area. I’m not going to go to the tailor and get it fixed because it’s going to cost the price of the pants and I’m pretty sure another hole is going to appear in some other unpredictable place.
They were fuzzy loungepants though, so I’m still wearing ’em to sleep.
6. Applying to eleven (11) colleges as an exchange student AND THEN accidentally signing up for the wrong online class that won’t even help me graduate so then dropping it… oops
Two seemingly unrelated things that are really related because what they have in common is that they siphoned off precious time and made me sit in front of a computer for hours typing stuff out.
Applied to eleven colleges because I thought I wouldn’t get into any of them, and you can’t be too safe… In retrospect a good amount probably would have been five.
The Common App and Blackboard are still fifth and sixth on my list of Most Visited sites even though I haven’t touched the Common App since the beginning of January. I’m 500 percent done with the Common App. From the month of September to October 15th (first college app) done to January, I probably had that website open continuously in at least one tab. Also my tab problem is kind of out of hand. Kyra if you’re reading this I still will never match you but I’m getting pretty damn close. My limit is when I can’t see the icons anymore so I have to use Ctrl+Tab to shift through the tabs quickly.
7. Back to the beginning of the year: Walking for twenty minutes around the Hassan neighborhood trying to find out how to switch lines for the tram
Coming from Cary, North Carolina (aka SuburbLand USA), a place that has no public transportation that regular people take (and if there is, then they haven’t advertised it enough), I have taken public transportation only a few times in my life, mostly when I have been traveling in China.
Then I came to Rabat, which has a pretty developed tram system. I learned how to take the tram. It’s easy. You buy a card and swipe it when you walk in the tram. Good!
Then came switching lines.
All my experience from switching lines has come from literally switching lines. Like thinking of it as two distinct lines existing that go in opposite directions that intersect at a certain stop. My idea of switching lines was to get off the tram/train/subway/whatever, find the next line, and get on the next tram/train/subway.
Well. I was wrong. During maybe my third week here, I took the tram to the Tour Hassan tram station, got off, and walked around trying to find out how to get to Line 2 from Line 1. I couldn’t find another line but I was determined to find another line because in Place Al Joulane (where I’d switched before while traveling with AMIDEAST) there were two tracks and two lines.
Then I asked someone where Line 2 was.
Update: there aren’t two tracks at Tour Hassan. Line 1 and Line 2 are on the SAME f*cking track so all I had to do was get out of the Line 1 tram and wait for the Line 2 tram to come cruising along
Yes, there was a diagram inside the tram that showed the order of the stops and where the lines joined, and I had seen the map of the tram system before and I had known that it looked like this:
I just didn’t connect the dots. Somehow I thought that there would be two physical tracks running parallel to each other for four stops and I’d never even considered that two tram lines could run on the same track. HAHHAHAHA at least i got exercise
And on that happy note, thanks for reading this blog post, and I hope you don’t mess up like I did!! Actually, though, minor f*ckups aren’t that bad and sometimes they’re pretty fun to deal with. Yay exchange!