As I write this, I’m three days into my year in Morocco. I’ve gotten past my jet lag, but it’s only the first of many hurdles and adventures along the way. My tap water consumption is still limited to cautious “shots,” and when it comes to getting around in my new neighborhood, L’Ocean, I’m at the mercy of Google Maps, although even that falls short when it comes to the twists and turns of the nearby Medina.
If there’s one thing that has best characterized my first three days in Morocco, it’s mint tea. Morocco is known for it sweet mint tea, and it’s no exaggeration to say that when in Morocco, you will drink a LOT of it. I’ve literally been given mint tea at every meal, and in between every meal, and although I will not attempt to count how much I’ve had, it’s safe to assume that I’ve had at least 15 glasses in the last three days, wallah. The mint tea has a deeper meaning than just a literal glass of sugary delicious-ness. It represents Moroccan hospitality. From the many glasses my host mom gives me every day, to the time that our program coordinator brought out a tray of tea for us jet lagged students, each glass of tea reminds me of the open-heartedness of Moroccan culture. Moroccan mint tea also represents community. Just today, I met some friends from the NSLI-Y and YES cohorts, and we spent a few hours spilling tea, in both the figurative, and actual sense. There’s just something sweet (literally) about sitting together and chatting with cups of tea, as we become energized by one another, and of course, the sugar rush.
On a completely unrelated note, I began Darija (Moroccan dialect) classes today!! Our cohort is divided into four different classes based on language experience, I was placed in my own class, with a teacher named Ustada Hafida who I love already! This week, Arabic classes only consist of an hour of survival Darija. Although I was expecting lessons on grammar and vocabulary, the class was completely conversation-based! Ustada Hafida started off by speaking to me in Darija and asking me questions, and every time I used a Shaami word in my Darija response, she would provide me the Moroccan equivalent. We discussed a range of topics, from where to eat Indian food in Rabat (there was an expensive restaurant that is now closed), to the role of Palestinians in Jordan.
I’m here. In Morocco. I literally LIVE here now. And the city of Rabat will be my home for the next nine months. It’s a wonderful feeling, but a strange one too. On one hand, I feel a responsibility to make sure that this year starts out perfectly, because I’ve mentally convinced myself that these nine months must be flawless, even though that’s impossible. On the other hand, I feel relaxed at times, because I have nearly a year. Unlike my six weeks in Jordan, I have so many months ahead to get involved and make Moroccan friends, become closer with my host family, and improve my Darija and fus7a.
Today’s post is a short one because I have to do my first Arabic homework assignment! Ustada Hafida asked me what I was interested in learning about, and when I told her I wanted to discuss the role of women in Moroccan class, she sent me a 25 minute video about working women in Morocco, so that I can write down all the new words and have a conversation about it tonight!