As I write this, I’m sipping mint tea at a cafe in my beautiful neighborhood, L’Ocean. They call it L’Ocean for a reason, because the Atlantic Ocean is a short walk away. I’ve been in Morocco for just over a week now, and I’m still in the “honeymoon phase” of the culture shock curve. Despite being exhausted from spending entire days in orientation sessions and having gotten sick multiple times, everything still feels really great and dream like. I still don’t know the way from home to school and have gotten lost multiple times with Melina, who lives in my neighborhood, but I can now successfully cross the street despite the speedy drivers (the key is to stand really close to a local and walk with them). This week has been an incredible one, and has been filled with a range of memories, so much so that it’s hard to pinpoint one to really characterize my first week in Rabat. So, for today, I leave you with a few short anecdotes that have made this week special.
Walking everywhere: Ever since I’ve arrived in Rabat, I’ve been averaging 12,000 to 16,000 steps (often more!) each day, meaning that I’m consistently exceeding my 10K step goal! Rabat is very much a walkable city, so although I took a taxi for the first few days, I now commute daily to school on foot! My high step count also comes from the fact that I’ve been constantly getting lost. My friend Melina and I walk to school daily, but we always miss turns or take the wrong street, so every trip has been an adventure. Starting tomorrow, we’re hoping to write down all the important landmarks, so that we can get to school on time.
Exploring Rabat with our language partners: Even though Rabat is a small city, there is so much to see and do, and on three different days this week, we’ve gone out with a group of Moroccan students who will soon be matched as our language partners. From learning the names of vegetables at the busy Medina (old city), figuring out the tram system, and riding a carnival ride at the bustling Oudaya (seaside area) on a Friday night, we’ve already had some really great adventures. I’m incredibly excited to be matched with my language partner next week, so that I can make close friends with another Moroccan girl close to my age, and improve my Darija, as well as my understanding of Rabat!
Our first overnight trip: We spent most of Thursday and Friday at a reflection retreat in Benslimane, which is about an hour long drive from Rabat. The retreat was at an ecological lodge, and we had our phones taken away, so a lot of the experience was centered around spending time with the rest of the cohort and disconnecting. The lodge was somewhat like a farm, so there were cats (this was terrifying at times), chickens, peacocks, everywhere. At the retreat we did many different group activities where we shared aspects of our lives and identities that we didn’t always talk about. Everyone was very vulnerable and personal, and hearing about each student’s experience really made me realize how diverse, motivated, and unique our cohort is. On a less serious note, the highlight of my trip to Benslimane was spending hours on the swingset, and I guess I’ve been eating a lot in Morocco, because at one point, the chain suddenly snapped when I was in mid air, and I went flying and landed face first on the ground. I guess when you try to fly too far, you’ll land flat on your face. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures or videos, but from those who saw my fell (my face was in the ground), it was quite a sight.
Survival Darija class: For the entirety of orientation week, we had an hour of daily survival Darija, which has been a lot of fun! As I mentioned in my last post, I’m in my class alone, which means that I’ve been learning many different things that interest me! So once, I had a conversation about the annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, while in another class, I learned a more advanced sentence structure which would allow me to make complex sentences! We start official classes tomorrow, and we’ll be learning fus7a (Modern Standard Arabic) and Darija daily, to my understanding. I’m honestly not sure which textbook I’ll be using or what my curriculum will look like, but I believe that will all be clarified soon– inchallah!
Disclaimer: I wrote this post yesterday, but I didn’t have time to edit and publish it, so some things have changed since then. I’m hoping to write about my first few days of Arabic class soon! Spoiler alert: Arabic class was amazing and I have so much to talk about!