Two weeks of Classes + Weekend Excursion = Almost Three Total Weeks in country

Okay…. So I am a bit behind in writing my blog.  As if you couldn’t tell.  I promise to get better.  But internet is a hard commodity to come by….

Every since classes have started it has felt like a really crazy whirl-wind for sure.  I’ve been out, having fun, learning, getting lost, getting sad, being happy, falling in love with Morocco….

Week one I was still acclimating myself… I got lost in the medina (the old city, connected by walls… so no real way out except the exit)…. The medina didn’t make much sense the first couple of days and nothing was truly familiar…. And there are soooo many dead ends.  So I realized I should stop necessarily looking for markers like I would in the US to familiarize myself with the area… I realized this primarily because each day the medina changes and shifts.. some parts of the markets stay the same, but one day a seller could have only oranges, and another day a variety of vegetables.  So I learned to recognize fixed markers like graffiti and the width of the streets…. Fortunately the walls and alleys cannot change size as they have been the same way for thousands of years.  Praise Jesus.

We have 3 hours and 15 minutes of Arabic every morning.  During week one we learned Darija, the Moroccan dialect of Arabic.  I found this really helpful in terms of negotiating my way around and helped a small bit with communication with my family.  But then again, how much can you really learn in a week?  Not so much, but enough to feel slightly more comfortable… as lease I know “I am going to the beach”… which makes me happy.

My host family have been really great minus, the constant dreaded phrase of “kuli, kuli, kuli” (eat, eat, eat) even when you are stuffing your face with food…. Or even still in the process of chewing.  Food and Moroccan whisky (tea with sooooo much sugar) is simply a way that Moroccans show their love.  I’ll be honest, I could do with being loved a little less.

I have been so extremely fortunate to have a sister and cousin with friends my age.  These friends have now become my friends.  Within the first week we all became very close and have stayed that way.  Its strange to think that I can feel such affection for people I can only communicate with brokenly.  I can’t decide if it is unfortunate or lucky for me that a lot of them try to speak English with me.  Good for practice for them I suppose, and nice I can understand… and to be honest they are helping me with my Arabic a lot.  Even my homework, I am so lucky.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about writing the names of my host family and my new friends on this blog.  As I am a visitor in this country…. Learning all I can at the mercy of the Moroccan people I am struggling with the line between learning and life, exploitation and exchange.  So I’ve decided I will not put the names of my new friends and host family on this blog, because it is public, anyone can read it…. and well…. For some reason that seems unfair.  I am choosing to expose my life in my own way on this blog, but of my own choice and my own volition, they do not have that same option.  So therefore, I have decided that this counts as the public and until further notice I apologize for the ambiguity of saying “my friends or host family” but this is the choice I have made.

So that being said… lets see… oh, stream of consciousness….

Week two classes have been….. well…. Daunting.  My teacher only speaks in Arabic and he is starting about a semester ahead of where I am.  I am feeling… a little like a fish out of water, but I am battling to catch up…. So trust me, you’ll hear much more about this.

I need to apply for my honors thesis… which is incredibly hard to do without internet…. So I’ll try and figure out that this weekend because I am not really going anywhere like the majority of the students.  But I really want to get my stuff together.  I am trying to find a way to incorporate my thesis with my ISP (in county independent study project) and vice versa in a meaningful way I care about.

A lot of internal discussions, changes, shiftings, and thoughts are going on…. Its good, but… well, difficult of course.

Yesterday I had my first for real bad day in Morocco.  I have been a lil sick for about two weeks now… really sick on my weekend trip… so well, you know how morally wounding that is for me.  Luckily, most people I know are feeling the same way so I feel a little comforted.  But yes, yesterday I was walking around looking for something (I just could not find).  I often feel like a child in this country… but yesterday I really felt helpless.  Arabic class had been so difficult, I couldn’t do my homework at all.  Also, there was this street harasser that just wasn’t getting the message (following me around for like an hour).  I am really missing all my American friends, family, loves…. I am bad at keeping in contact (this time I have a legit excuse!), but I was really feeling the effects of not really being able to contact and communicate with anyone that I love…. So all you who are reading this…. Know that I love you and I miss you…. I just wanted to walk down the street without being stared at, or told by ever guy they love me, ppppsssssssssstttttttttt (By the way, for future notice… ppppppsssssssstttttttttt, is NOT an effective way to get my attention). I also wanted to be able to meet people in the eye without having them follow me for an hour.  So finally I just stopped, went into a café can had the most American thing I could find.  Fries and a plain cheese Panini.  And a coke.  Of course the coke and fries made my stomach upset, but I was satisfied.  Then when I went home, I started to cry because I missed people and couldn’t do ANY of my homework.

However, in my family (and while a generalization, I am told for most Moroccans)…. Being alone is weird, and crying alone is even weirder.  So my whole family, and cousins, and friends came in.  Of course, all you want to do is be alone…. But that apparently was not an option… for which in hindsight I am very grateful for.  They made me laugh and helped me finish my homework, and my friends made me go out until like 2am (mistake?  LOL, nope) where I couldn’t think about anything.  They didn’t even really ask what was wrong.  I was sad, and I shouldn’t be.  That was it.  I feel extremely lucky.

But today, now that I have dealt with the emotions and am trying to fix the problem… as much as one can, I am very surprised with myself.  I never expected to have what I am calling “an American moment”.  But really, I think I was just craving a comfortable experience.  I am so exposed here.  I am a child.  I don’t know where to go.  I am learning everyday how to negotiate my way, time, and space in this country.  I am even learning a new way of moving along a sidewalk, how to cross the street, how to greet.  I am usually the only white person in a crowd.  I am different, racially and culturally.  I thought I was ready for this, prepared, eager…. And in many ways I am, but some days (apparently) I think it is too over-whelming.  I pride myself of my ability to be a strong, capable woman.  A woman who doesn’t question herself.  I know if a crisis happens I can deal.  I know I will be able to find my way home.  I know.  I am comfortable.  Here, not so much.  I do believe myself capable, but definitely not comfortable.  Sometimes, I think we all miss home.  That was yesterday for me.  But home is where you make it…. and I am finding a comfort, but every action, every moment seems through a lens.  A microscope almost if you will forgive the cliché.  Myself and that ever present “other”.  The human need to define themselves and others based on the boundaries and difference.  I am happy to learn about myself that it is easier to feel like I know someone based on our similarities.  We can laugh, our heart beats, and we both feel.  We both don’t like the cold, or both love Avatar.  Superficial sure, but I do not think I have yet reached a point where I can discuss and articulate the deep and layered levels of similarity and difference.  This will come in time.  For this I am grateful…. But I guess I just had a day where… well, I was over-whelmed.  But even in this day, which happens in the states too…. I also learned about myself (and clearly my host culture)…. I am grateful for this chance to think, to look into myself to at least try to figure out a little of what is happening internally.  I feel myself changing…. And even the painful windows are helping me to understand possibly how.  And the painful ones often demand your attention.  Pain is simply an indicator.  Woo.

Also, by the way, all, I miss you.

We had our weekend trip to Fez, Meknes, Voulibilis, and Moulay Idriss.  It was a good trip.  I was feeling ill throughout most of it.  I also struggle with how well SIT treats us.  I know it is unavoidable in my large group, but everything is planned… and the places we stay at and eat at are so very nice…. And clearly tourist destinations.  I have to keep reminding myself that in many ways I am a tourist…. So its okay.  But still, I get this uneasy feeling.  Especially when I feel or see the segregation, the accommodation… the preferential treatment.  I know there is the logic that “we paid for this nice level of treatment”…. But for me I feel that’s not necessarily true.  I paid to learn.  I want to sit with the bus driver and understand his experience and life.  I want to eat with my hands and not a fork.  I want to understand the lives of the people in the cities and towns…. To talk to the tanners, the craftsmen… not be served.  I want to appreciate them as people and not necessarily define them by their profession.  Clearly, I am struggling with this.  But I did have a great time.  I am thinking that this will be best articulated through photos so I am going to upload some…. But yes.

Morocco.  Who would have guess.  I can’t articulate quite what it is yet that I am falling in love with.. the people, the exploration of myself, learning a new world view…. I just don’t know, but this is what is up.

I will write again soon.  Tomorrow I am really hoping to get a firmer idea on my ISP project and maybe (hopefully) visit the peace corps office in Rabat.  We shall see.  We shall see…. Oh, and finally figure out the post office system.  🙂

Goodnight world.

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