Catchin’ Up on blogging… maybe.

I will be posting these subjects (see below) over the next couple of days. It is time to get back into this blog. Dedication. Yes. Also, I posted some photos on facebook to make up for not providing thoughts.

All that has happened:

– Southern Excursion

– My host sister’s wedding

– Life in Rabat

– Honors Thesis Approval – will be adapted based on funding

– Love

– Village Stay outside of Boujaad

Southern Excursion:

The Southern Excursion was a weeklong excursion all over the South of Morocco… and well, this was an amazing week….. and I defiantly saw a great deal of the south of Morocco. Of course, like many of our excursions, we were treated like tourists over and over. In retrospect I suppose it was nice to sleep in the nicer places and have our meals provided…. But during the time… it felt very strange and a little frustrating. Still does. During this time, my status as a white, American, female was impressed upon me over and over which was a bit emotionally draining and difficult. My good friend in Rabat had also gotten me sick…. So that was a fun week for that reason as well…. ; )

My favorite part of this excursion was our visit to the Sahara desert. I loved the desert just as much as I thought I might. I bought a scarf in the desert, which I wore as turban for the majority of my time there. During this time is also the time that I got to ride a camel!! When we got to the desert we were supposed to ride camels in the afternoon and then get up early and climb to the top of the dunes to watch the sunrise. But when we got to the desert there was a sand storm that kept us from the camels. Instead we went to visit an NGO that focuses on female empowerment there in the desert communities, many of which are Amazigh. So we spent the afternoon learning how this NGO operates and some of their projects. Then we went (in land rovers… woo hoo) to the crazy place we stayed in the middle of the desert. We hung out and later that night had a Gnawa band perform for us. I was feeling ill so I wanted to go to bed early…. But instead was seduced by nature and the moon and ended up sleeping on the roof. Which of course, around 3am I was freezing so I went into my room and bed. Then at 5am we all got up in the dark, got on camels, and rode into the desert. We went to this one huge sand dune, sat on top, and watched the sun rise. It was truly a great moment. Highlight of my stay so far in Morocco. I will most assuredly never forget it. Afterwards we rode our camels back to our crazy place to eat breakfast. I met some Amazigh there, one who actually spoke some Japanese. It was very funny, quite a crazy moment in my life to be in the middle of a desert, speaking to someone who was never educated, and never left the desert (nor wants to) who knows Japanese. Apparently there is a Japanese woman who lives in his village and teaches him Japanese as he teaches her Arabic and Tamazight.

One day we stayed at a girl’s dormitory and this was one of my greatest experiences, but also one of my lowest. This dormitory exists because village girls who live far away have no access education because the school is either far away or their fathers will not allow them to walk to the school. So these girls stay in these dorms in order to go to school in the city, or school in general.

Here is my journal entry on the day we left this place:

March 2nd 2010

7:30am

Ouzzazate, Morocco Dar Taalabah (House of the Student) – Girl’s Dormitory

So this morning has been quite the privileged morning. I woke up early to shower. I thought last night the water was cold because so many people in our group showered, so I decided I would shower early in the morning. It turns out that this facility just doesn’t have truly warm water. I think my biggest pet peeve is a cold shower. High maintenance I know, but its one of my only things like that. Of course, like anything I’ll do it if I have to. But then I stopped myself from complaining because you know what, today or tomorrow I’ll have my warm or hot shower. The girls that live in this dorm will use this water to shower day after day. We stayed at a girls dormitory last night. Its different than the “dormitory” we think of in the states. This facility exists for girls from High School to College age from rural villages to live here and have a chance at a good education. And here I was upset over my cold shower, a daily thing for these girls who are here to go to school and improve the quality of their lives. Trust me, I know form years of experience, cold showers (unless you like them) are not something you get used to. But like I said tomorrow, or today, or sometime in the future I know I’ll be getting a hot shower, and on a regular basis… even if I travel through Morocco. Student, tourist, privileged. But of course as I was up so early I went down to breakfast early. I went into the room we last night with the girls that live here. I thought we were eating breakfast with them like we ate dinner. So I sat down and had a little Moroccan tea and a small piece of bread with olive oil like the other girls. Then I looked into the other room, the central room and I saw the ladies setting up what was actually our breakfast. It had bread and cheese and pastries and orange juice, coffee, tea, water. All you can imagine, instead of simple olive oil, we of course had jam. I felt so…. Its hard to describe but horrible is close, uncomfortable, ashamed? Yes, maybe ashamed is the closest. Even their Moroccan tea had only a little sugar compared to what I’m sure was in ours, or I would get at home or in the Café. All the other students were asleep from the group and the girls from the dormitory were long finished with breakfast before they came down. This glaringly obvious imbalance of wealth, privilege, and power was really only seen by the girls that live here and me. But isn’t that how it always it? Power imbalances are glaringly obvious to those less privileged and hidden from view from those who refuse to see? Well, I don’t refuse to see. I am sad and sickened but I am glad that was made obvious. I do not want my privilege to go on unacknowledged, hidden while I am sleeping. Some would say, no your breakfast is better because you are guest, its Moroccan hospitality. But that just seems like what the privileged say to excuse themselves, to help themselves sleep better at night. To keep sleeping through and turning a blind eye to the power differentials and the wake we leave. The thing is, I am glad and fortunate to be privileged. I value the comforts that I have… but I just wish it wasn’t so… obvious, that I could do what is in my power to lessen the divide… why couldn’t we all have the same breakfast? Either we should have had bread, olive oil, and tea. We could understand the experience of the girls in the dormitory better, and symbolically show we are all the same. Because access to resources aside, WE ARE. Or, the incredibly nice breakfast provided to us could have been shared. This way the girls benefit from our already intrusive presence. I just wish my privilege didn’t make me feel like I do more harm than good or feel like I am always taking, whether this taking is only in the form of knowledge or exposure to cultural difference. As I sat writing this, clearly not eating what I now consider tainted food, not to mention the sick feeling in my stomache, one of the SIT girls accidentally broke a lot of glasses. Accidents happen. Not blaming, I get it. But those glasses, I’m assuming were some of the best they had. Once again for me, its just another example of the harm I feel we are easily capable of. Often the harm is unintentional, I would never want to harm people that give me so much, or anything in general… or hurt anyone for any reason really… But I realize I do by my very presence in a place, I don’t know. All I know is I am upset and can only begin to articulate the reasons why. It’s not my study abroad program’s fault. Its… I don’t know. But it has me thinking and nauseous. Good thing I only had a small piece of bread with olive oil for breakfast I guess.

Like I said, this point was my low of the trip… but this theme was quite pervasive to be honest.

A lot of the trip was also spent determinedly trying to find internet because my honors thesis proposal was due… I’ll talk more about that later… but geez… that was for sure difficult.

I am sure there is much more to be said about the South of Morocco…. Essouria. I love this city…. It was by far the most touristy city, but because of this all the people were all very very friendly. It is also a port town… and lord knows I love me a good port town. I had a great time shopping and having fun… and well, all that jazz : )… basically just touristy things… and going out that night too was a ton of fun.

I couldn’t wait to get back to Rabat, but am very happy I had that experience. I wouldn’t mind going back to Essouria one day.

Peace and Love, world.

Pursuit of Happiness…

by Kid Cudi

Crush a bit, little bit, roll it up, take a hit
Feelin’ lit feelin’ light, 2 am summer night.
I don’t care, hand on the wheel, drivin drunk, I’m doin’ my thing
Rollin the Midwest side and out livin’ my life getting’ out dreams
People told me slow my road I’m screaming out fuck that
Imma do just what I want lookin’ ahead no turnin’ back
if I fall if I die know I lived it to the fullest
if I fall if I die know I lived and missed some bullets

I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold
I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good.
(x2)

Tell me what you know about dreamin’ dreamin’
you don’t really know about nothin’ nothin’
tell me what you know about them night terrors every night
5 am, cold sweats wakin’ up to the skies
tell me what you know about dreams, dreams
tell me what you know about night terrors, nothin’
you don’t really care about the trials of tomorrow
rather lay awake in a bed full of sorrow

I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shines ain’t always gonna be gold
I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good
(x2)

‘m on the pursuit of happiness. I know everything that shines ain’t always gold
I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good

I’m on the pursuit of happiness
And I know everything that shines ain’t always gonna be gold, hey
I’ll be fine once I get it, yeah
I’ll be good

Pursuit of happiness, yeah
I don’t get it, I’ll be good

“Do you have the time, to listen to me whine, about nothing and everything all at once…”

I have yet to figure out the postal system here…. but here is my address in the chance that you want it.

c/o Center for Cross-Cultural Learning
P.O. Box 6291
Rabat Instituts
Rabat, 10101
Morocco

Arabic class = major fail.  I don’t think I’ve ever used that expression before…. but if ever in the history of that expression being applicable…. it is now.  I think the problem is that I tested in too high… especially considering that in class we are starting in book 2 and I am not even finished with book 1.  But after a week (and a day) of being frustrated to tears… I think I am going to ask to be placed in a lower level… the level I should actually be in.  The first time I’ve ever scored higher on a test than I should…. and it has really been to my detriment.  But hopefully, I will be able to reify this.

Time is passing incredibly quickly… but sometimes is just seems sooo slow.  Vague, but exactly how I am feeling at this moment.

I spent the weekend in Rabat, and am really glad I did instead of traveling.  I need to get on my honors thesis stuff more intently (so hard to do here!…. lack of technology, who knew ;)) and well… the weekend was just relaxing.

I spent the majority of Sunday at the beach.  I’ve found two other uses (other than the beauty and salty breeze) to justify my obsession with the beach in Rabat:  Exercise and contemplation.  In Morocco, from the excessive mental stimulation (I think) my dreams are sooooo vivid.  But the downside of that is that the nightmares are especially horrible.  The dreams are great, but the nightmares are worse.  Apparently I often dream about what is most often on my mind during the day and/or the last thing I think of before I sleep.  Saturday night I had been thinking of a great friend I had not heard from in a few days, am worried about, and miss very much…. And had some of the worst dreams I’ve ever had.  So when I got up, I was still upset because I remembered the dreams so clearly.  I wanted to clear my head so I decided to take a run down to the beach.  I wanted to be alone to settle my thoughts… but of course no one can do anything in Morocco alone so, of course, my little brother decided he wanted to go with me.

So of course (once again) I couldn’t say no.  He’s not the best runner, but we ended up playing for a couple of hours down on the beach.  It is funny how we can communicate with limited words.  So now I think I’ll do all of my exercising down at the beach.  Later, after I brought my host brother back home I went down to the beach to sit on the rocks to think and sort things out.  I wish I could explain this place.  I’ll try to add some pictures from my first time going there…, but it still will not be able to express how I feel about this particular place.  But I am grateful for this place to think.  To think about the future, the past, my feelings, the choices I’ve made, and the choices I will need to make.  Who I want to be, who I am, and what direction I feel like I should be going… or not going.  I find myself, not conflicted and not really confused… just exploring, considering, regretting, accepting.  Either way, I’m glad that I’ve found a place so beautiful that encourages this type of reflection…. And is a place for fun, and happiness.  Life.  Life is good.

I am really grateful for friends today.  Friends here, and especially (especially times a million) my friends back home.  One of my best friends in the world, before I left for Morocco, gave me a packet of letters to open at certain times… like when I am sad, or need a laugh, or miss her, etc.  I’ve been waiting to open them, but today I opened the one labeled “Miss me…”.  And I laughed for a really long time.  It was exactly what I needed.  And today I also got to gchat (god bless gchat) with a friend who I’ve not been able to talk with really since I left.  Friends, you know who you are.  Thanks for being there… I really needed it, today being my second truly bad day in Morocco.

Oh, so something happy.  So I’ve been to three separate cafés (so far) and ordered the same thing.  Omelet au fromage + frites.  In each place I’ve received this order completely different.  The fries are usually the same-ish…. Some skinny, some fat, you know, fries.  But one place gave me just the omelet (and cheese) on a plate.  The other gave it to me on a Panini with sauce tomatoes and lettuces (along with a salad, rice, and noodles).  The last place gave it to me on a baguette with a pickle, lettuce, and tomatoes on the side.  And every place costs the same.  LOL.  I really like it.  Something about this (I think my favorite order) not being commercialized and totally unique at each place… each with its own flavor (pun (or fun) intended).  Also I am thinking I need more protein, because I am craving eggs like crazy.  Even right now.

Okay on to homework, and then I think I might just go get some eggs… maybe I’ll try a new café and see what surprise I get ; ).

I love you.  Yes, especially you.

Goodnight world.

More Excursion Photos

🙂

Weekend Excursion – 4 Dynasties Trip

Meknes, Volubilis, Fez, and Moulay Idriss

Ancient Roman Drinking Game = get super drunk and try to stay on.

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.

The Beginnings of Love….

Friday + Weekend

Schedule for Friday

7:30-8:30 Breakfast at Hotel

8:30-9:00 Put Your luggage on the bus

9:00-11:00 Drop off; Departure from Hotel

11:30-12:30 Debriefing the Encounter Experience

12:30-1:30 Lunch at CCCL

1:30-4:00 Bus Tour of Rabat, Abdelhay

4:00-5:00 Orientation Wrap Up, Ads

So how do I recap an entire day and weekend in one blog post?  Eh.

Important for Friday… let see.  The drop off would be the first.  Unfortunately the drop off was alphabetical so while I was in an area I had never been in… and it took a good fifteen to twenty minutes…. I could find my way back very easily :(.  I did get a lil turned around once, but only because I was not paying attention… unlike today where I got lost for real in the medina trying to go home.

So the drop off was good, but pretty… anti-climatic I suppose??  I guess the point of the exercise was to instill confidence and I suppose that it did.

So then we went home with our families.  At first it was a little crazy because I couldn’t understand anyone and we kinda just watched TV.  Moroccans watch A LOT of TV, not even joking.  My host father put of an American movie…. It was the old Batman.  LOL.  First movie in English with Arabic subtitles.  Then we watched a show in Arabic called where is my father.  Apparently it is super popular.

Okay, also here is my aside.  This is the point in my blog where I begin to select carefully what information I convey… especially when it comes to the home.  I am a guest in another’s home and that space is private.  It is not that I think people will necessarily judge or misconstrue, I am simply trying to navigate the line between the private and the public.  Much of what I am learning is actually coming from the home at this point, so of course I will discuss some of what I am doing, but once again.  The home is a private space, what I learn should remain within.

So yes, Saturday.  I got up and was not really sure what to do.  My older host sister was at work, so I kinda just watched cartoons with my host brother and sister.  They are super cute.  It is all older American cartoons dubbed into Arabic, like Tom and Jerry.  I love cartoons.  Fun.  Then I colored with the little ones… there were a lot of kids that came over.  (This is kinda the norm at my place, people just come and go all the time :)… I like it a lot).  Later that day I went with my host sister to pick out a birthday present… and later went to the birthday party…. Let me tell you, crazy fun… and super-overwhelming.  Tons of singing and dancing… and just a real hullabaloo (not sure I’ve ever used that word).

I find that I am really falling in love with Morocco…. Slowly, but definitely am.  The more I learn, the more I am confused, but the more I really love it.

From my observations, space and family is viewed very different.  Its hard to articulate at this point, so I will wait until I possibly can.

After the party I went with my host sister and her friends out to see Rabat at night.  I had suuuuchhhhh a great time.  It was great to see the city, for what it is to the young.  It is a place to roam, to explore, to take pride in, to love.  At least that is how it was for me.  I went to a pool hall/club?  But only for like twenty minutes and had a great time.  But walking around the city was my favorite time up until that time… but Sunday.  Oh I really loved Sunday.

Sunday was amazing.  In the morning I went to visit the Hassan Tower in Rabat with my friend Donna from the SIT group.  That was super fun.  It was ssssssoooooooooooo beautiful.  Like wow.  I will upload pictures soon.  Then I went back and hung out at home for a while.  Later my host sister, her cousin?, and one of my new friends went to the Kasbah and then the beach.  Sitting on the rocks overlooking the beach was my favorite experience so far… we watched the sunset and I think it was that point that I realized that I was truly falling in love.  For realz.  Then we went home… and I fell asleep in the living room so don’t really remember getting to sleep… oh and I wrote my friend Elizabeth a letter and talked to her (J), but now I have to send it.

My battery is going to die very very very very soon… so I am going to upload this blog post and I will write more later… about today, LOL…. And about getting lost in the medina.  Ugh… I probably will again trying to find my way home.  Ugh.  And upload some pictures.

So before I write again my plan is to:

1)      Send my letter

2)      Go to the CCCL Library

3)      Go to the beach (for the second time today).  Tee hee.

4)      Go home and hang out with some people I really, really like 🙂

… and as I stared, I counted…

This is my last night in a hotel (homestay family tomorrow)… and reliable-ish internet.  Woo.

Schedule for the Day

8:00-9:00 Breakfast at Hotel

9:30-10:30 SIT Program:  Schedule and Policy, SIT Study Abroad Morocco, Lahcen

10:45-12:15 Student Safety and Security guide lines, and contingency plan, Lahcen

12:30-1:30 Lunch at CCCL

1:30-3:00 Family Life and Homestay Issues, Doha Lmachichi, Homestay Coordinator

3:15-4:15 Student Handbook and Group Norms, Abdelhay

4:30-5:30 Meet homestay families

5:30-6:30 Visit CCCL library

6:30-7:30 Welcoming dinner CCCL

Today was long, but good.  Long, yet the days are feeling shorter and shorter (and more tiring).  Maybe because it seems like we did a lot today.

We went over the syllabus and all the things that we will be doing, which sound amazing (we are visiting so much of Morocco… like everywhere).  We are traveling to a lot of places, and encouraged to travel on the weekends…. So wahaa.  Oh, and I found out that we are in fact riding camels.  We don’t ride them until week five, but it doesn’t matter – Camels have been confirmed in my experience.

To be honest I know SIT has its ups and downs, but this is exactly the kind of experience I was looking for, so I am happy.  We have Arabic everyday from 8:30-11:45am and then all our other fun academic stuff.

We are encouraged not to live with our homestay families during our month long ISP (Independent Study Project) and to actually find the place on our own…. So I guess I have to start thinking about it…. and finding a place to live for three weeks to a month.  Woo.

I got a cell phone today, pretty small crappy one that cost 250dirhams.  I will only be using it to call people in country but I feel better having that method of communication in the chance that things go awry.

I learned a couple of things about Moroccan home life I did not know before.  One of which is that Moroccans only showers once a week in a public bath called a Hammam.  I knew Hammams existed, I just didn’t know that everyone used them, and that they used them only once a week.  Also a lot of Moroccans do not have hot water (or if they do they have to turn it on) or western toilets.  Instead they have Turkish toilets, which is essentially a hole in the ground that you squat over.  Happy aiming.  Also the Moroccans did not use toilet paper.  As I talk about these practices, while completely different from my own, I want to make it clear that this is not to say that the Moroccans are dirty or smell bad or weird…. just different. It is just the way it is.  However, although I will go to the Hamm am, I’ll be honest I’ve been devising ways I can shower more often.  I am thinking I can was my hair in a bucket (they often do not have sinks) every morning.  Then I can just rinse with water and a lot of perfume.  I also might (and by might I mean probably) will find a cheap gym and shower there as well.

Also, no washers and dryers.  Even in the hotels.  LOL, we have been hand washing our clothes (specifically underwear) and hanging them around the room.

Oh and the Moroccans use bread as their silverware.  So no forks, just carbs.  I think I might be in trouble… but also maybe heaven?  I am unsure.  But I am not looking forward to seeing what this will do to my already stressed waistline.  LOL.

After tonight my internet access is going to decrease significantly.  So we’ll see how this all plays out.  My blogs might just be lagged like a day or so?  Well, if I continue to write every day.  I am not really sure.  Eh.

So I met my host mother and brother today.  LOL, we don’t speak the same language at all.  She seems very nice and it seems like everyone in the family is hosting students from SIT so that should be fun.  I am kind of worried about the for real language barrier, but only in terms of rules and regulations of what I can and can’t do…. Not to mention letting her know when I am going out, coming home, leaving for another city?  But luckily for me she speaks fus’ha (formal Arabic) and has been responding in kind…. So we could have a like a half conversation.  I mean I am already horrible at small talk in general, but it seems I am even worse in Arabic.  LOL.

So tomorrow we have out drop-off and then a bus tour of Rabat, and then we will be dropped off with our families in the medina.  I am not really sure how this weekend is going to go.  Oh, apparently Moroccans also do not think people should be alone.  They think that people that spend time alone are either sick, upset, or have a problem.  I might be in trouble there too considering I really value time spent by myself just being alone with my book or thoughts to decompress and recharge.  We’ll see.  Also apparently I am going to a Moroccan birthday party this Saturday with my host family.  🙂

Oh and our dinner at the CCCL was amazing…. man, there is just too much to put in this blog.  Fo sho.

I think we might try and go out tonight since this is the last night before a great number of restrictions are put into place, so I might take a nap before.  Or I will maybe use this night to get some alone time before I don’t have it anymore LOL, I am pretty tired.

These are the days….

…Place your hand in mine, I’ll leave when I wanna…

Me + Archway of an Andalusian Wall

So I just finished one of the crappiest smut novels I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading. It was one of those hasty purchases in the Airport Bookstore. Mistake. It is called Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress by Elizabeth Boyle (I know, I should have known from the title, but it was the only historical romance I could find). Which is another point, some authors just set a book during 18th century England and then categorize it as “historical romance”. Wrong. You gotta pick those suckers out carefully. So I just read it as fast as I could hoping it would get better…. But then it ended up me reading it as fast as I could so it would end. But yes, for all you smut readers out there…. Do yourself a favor and AVOID.

 Anyways….

Schedule for the Day

7:30-8:30 Breakfast at Hotel

9:00-10:30 Survival Arabic I

11:30-12:30 Lunch at CCCL

2:00-3:00 Monarchy and the Political System in Morocco, Abdelhay

3:00-4:30 Current issues in Morocco, Abdelhay

4:30-6:00 Info-fair postings and presentation and Debriefing the Bargaining exercise, Nabil

6:30-7:30 Dinner at CCCL

Woo internet is waaaaaaaaaaaay unreliable… and well, greatly crazy here. Nuff said.

So today was… so-so? I mean I had a great time, but there were mos def some ups and downs. I was tired this morning but not that bad. I think half of being tired is psychological. So last night I couldn’t really sleep so I just read like ¾ of that really crappy smut novel. So it must have been like 3-4-5? Either way, I just didn’t look at the clock and in the morning didn’t feel so bad. Just had some qahwaa wa haleeb (coffee with milk). I even ordered it in Arabic and they totally understood. Woo.

The hotel serves us breakfast every morning. It is really nice and like buffet style (just better food). But it is definitely not okay to serve yourself. Which I keep forgetting. Apparently that is the way everywhere. It’s a lil disconcerting. And to be honest I am not sure I want to get used to it. I mean I already feel out of place because I am thought to be this rich American living for the week in this expensive hotel right in the center of Rabat. But I’m not a rich American. I am privileged, in so many ways, but the very open acts of class differentials disconcert me. Like for instance, in our room, everyday someone comes in and cleans up and folds the bed. So me and my roommates had our clothes and pajamas on the bed and come back to find them folded. I know that this is apparently common, but still. It makes me uncomfortable. So today I just pushed my extra clothes and pajamas under the bed. Just some observations. I don’t really have much substantial experience or understanding of this yet, but I’ve noticed it and it makes me think about as much as it makes me feel uncomfortable.

The SIT program or CCCL is a little… I guess disorganized (ehem, frustrating?) would be the word, but more, failing at conveying all information. Just a little theme they have going on (Amazing program, I love it, but all programs have their downsides (just like people) and this seems to be theirs). I noticed many of the other students feeling a discontent with orientation as well, so that is a lil validating. Becca and I were talking about it today when we were walking down to the medina. And I think in many ways, Americans in general, rebel against having so little choice. If multiple days from morning until evening are completely planned with no real say or feelings of choice in terms of doing what they prefer or would like or need to do…. Well people get tired of it extremely quickly. Even the people that plan every minute of every day meticulously…. The difference is that they planned it, or had the illusion of choice in planning and negotiating the time and space in their day. I think I just feel this discontent sooner because I really value my ability to have a small measure, or even the illusion, of choice in my actions and daily life. So yes, many people skipped dinner, which seems to be an expression of independence and a claiming of choice. I myself had plans to skip except I was already there (and Rashim the cook would have been sad)…. And the meal was actually hot.

My first hot meal since I have arrived. I realize in America I really take for granted how many hot or warm meals I have. Apparently it is something I really like, because I’ve really been missing it.

Also missing chocolate. I’ve been craving it for a couple days. So today I bought it off a street vendor, pretty cheap I guess, but I was chocolate and that is all I was looking for. Success.

Today we learned a little darija which was good. I actually used it in this really neat street we found off the main souks in Rabat. I really would like to go back… and I will. I think this might be the street I make the majority of my purchases. 🙂 Also. There was this super cute kitten (animal protection/humane societies/feelings/laws/etc seem to not exist here) near the street. Heart stolen. Also I found this really awesome hand of Fatima doorknocker. Weird I know, but I think I will get it. LOL.

I tried to find time all day to get a cell phone but the orientation just doesn’t allow much time. Although in between one class I did get to exchange my American money (woo), buy a daftaar (notebook), and a phone card with minutes for the cell phone I still do not have. LOL, it seems that is the plan for lunch tomorrow.

Mohammed Avenue V. Woo… central street, a lot of stores (do not put the same idea of an American store in your head when I say store…. Gas station stores (the sketchy tiny ones) are way larger than most of the “stores” near Mohammed Avenue V), and a great landmark, especially if you get lost. Which I have not yet, thank goodness for a great sense of direction and an eye for land and street markers.

It rained a lot this evening when we had to walk home (we got a bit soaked). Rabat seems scarier in the dark and rain for some reason. Fo sho. Either way, that has pretty much curtailed any nightclub plans. So I’m not really sure what I am going to do…. It is almost eleven-thirty pm anyways… so I might either watch a movie or maybe go to bed early… mmm bed. Okay then, I suppose I will get on to that.

Oh, and we meet our host families tomorrow.  Yay?  Or Yikes?  LOL, ??????????????????

 Bsalama, world.

Waaha = Okay

This is the view from my class. Yeah.

Schedule for Today

8:00-9:00 Breakfast at Hotel

9:30-11:00 Moroccan History, Lachen

11:00-12:30 Moroccan 101, Abdelhay

12:30-1:30 Lunch at CCCL

1:30-3:00 Negotiating Street Harassment in Morocco, Farah

3:00-3:45 Introducing Bargaining and info Fair assignments, Nabil

3:45-6:30 Time for Information Fair assignments and bargaining

6:30-7:30 Dinner at CCCL

First of all, uploading this has been ridiculous.  It is 1:30am here, and the internet or interweb (French everywhere, super confusing) does not work, but for some reason Skype does, so I am skyping myself my blog entry and uploading it…. ridiculous if I do say so.  And show dedication fo sho.
Also I took my first pictures today, I will only try to upload one since it takes forever with this weird French computer.
Today has been significantly the best day so far.  Mainly because I was feeling much better and we got to explore the city a bit.
I really enjoyed our Moroccan History lecture.  Our Professor’s name was Lahcen Haddad and opened his lecture with the limitations of said lecture.  He spoke of how it was Arab centric and that it conveyed history from the point of view of “the powerful” and was simplified in terms of only listing events.  I found this introduction as valuable as the history he conveyed.  I really like to find professors that can not only talk about their shortcomings, but acknowledge that history often ignores many and is of the dominant societal or cultural perspective and voice.  Not to mention the fact that Moroccan history is truly interesting.

The discussion of street harassment was also very enlightening.  It was really good to hear the cultural explanations for something that is often so foreign and disconcerting for American/ foreign women.  For some reason this has never really bothered me, especially after the discussion today.  Of course, if I ever felt uncomfortable or like I was in danger I am sure it would bother me and I would take action.  But I have yet to feel this way.
Actually something kind of funny keeps happening to me on the street (and I guess will continue to do so since this is my first day really interacting on the street).  So we had this bargaining assignment today.  The program gave us 10 dirhams each to go and see all that we could buy.  I didn’t actually find anything I wanted/needed, but the experience was great.  I actually got to walk around, bargain, and see the medina.  But today I was mistaken for a Norwegian and another asked if I was Polish.  It seems none of the Moroccans think I am American.  LOL, I suppose this is a good thing, but many keep thinking I am of East European or of Slavic origins.  I don’t know why this tickles me so much, but maybe I should start pretending I am from there for giggles.  I don’t know yet.  Either way, super funny and super fun in general.
Becca and I started out during this bargaining assignment and were later joined by Jesse (sp?).  We met Hassan in the medina and Alee (sp?, pretty sure I misspelled that but I know I could spell it in Arabic!).  Alee was a Fulbright student in New York and speaks English very well.  Hassan speaks French and only darija I believe.  Either way, I can’t really understand a word of what he says.  I really hope I get better at Arabic, or at least pick up some darija soon.  We have a “survival Arabic” session tomorrow, so I hope that helps!!
Oh and I was placed in the highest level of Arabic offered at CCCL, so that’s good.  I think.
We also have another assignment called the Info Fair.  Becca and I, as well as a student named Anthony are in a group to find out info about the bars and nightclubs.  That is how Becca and I really got to know Hassan and Alee by asking them about it.  Apparently a bottle (we think of wine) costs 700 dirhams and a regular drink costs 50 dirhams (like 7ish American dollars).  But this is at the “clean places”.  There are no cover charges for the clubs.  Tonight we are going to check out the disco tech night club called L’Amnesia.  Alee told us that males and females go and that they are nice places, except for when there are fights.  This apparently is kind of common.  We will try to avoid the fights.  I am starting to feel if I am going to do anything “nightlife” oriented I am going to have to do it before this Friday when we join our homestay.  Apparently they are quite protective and I don’t know if I will be able to go out.  We shall see, we shall see…..
Update:  We went to a coffee shop which was fun, and then took a taxi to L’Amnesia.  It was pretty sketchy outside so we were kinda worried about getting out of the cab (no real marker for the club outside).  So we waited for our other friends to arrive in their taxi before we got out.  Then we found out that the club doesn’t open until 12:30am…. So we got in a taxi and headed home.  The plan is to go tomorrow… if we aren’t too tired.  Given how late we were up tonight?? And given the Who knows… but I hope so…

WE shall see….

I have an early day tomorrow (or well, today) and I am still up…. so……
Maa salama world.  For Realz.  Peace.

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