Monday, September 28, 2009
So being left-handed, this is kind of a problem. My first time in Morocco I quickly learned how to eat with my right hand (eating as in actually with your hands, using a piece of bread to scoop up whatever the main dish is from the communal plate)—not such a hard task since neither of my hands at the time were trained at this.
My current problem, though, is learning to cut the skin off of the fruit using a knife. For awhile, my homestay family didn’t let me near the knife and peeled the fruit for me (they did this out of hospitality). Then later when they realized I didn’t really know how to peel the fruit, they continued to peel it for me. So as of yesterday, I didn’t really get a chance to practice my skills.
Today I ended up eating lunch by myself in the kitchen with an apple as my dessert—yeah, a whole apple, with the skin. With no one in the kitchen, I decided to just try and cut the apple with my left hand. Well, turns out the knife is pretty blunt if you use it with your left hand. So then I let out a little sigh and transfered the knife to the right hand. For what seemed like hours, but was probably more like 5 minutes, I awkwardly and probably dangerously cut the apple skin off. It was not pretty and it is definitely not one of those things I am semi-ambidextrous at.
Then my host sister comes into the kitchen and I pleaded for some help—I have only managed to peel one quarter of the apple! As she swiftly peels the apple in less than a minute, I try to get some sympathy from her, but all she gives me is a lecture on how the left hand is for the hammam (the bathroom).
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Well for starters, it is not like my first experience in Morocco. This time, I knew a lot about the superficial culture shocks that I would endure upon arrival—the hot weather, the food, the bathrooms, and of course, the street harassment. However, there were a few things that I had (maybe conveniently) forgotten.
I had forgotten how mean and angry Moroccans can sound when they talk, even when they are having a perfectly amicable conversation. My friend Megan and I had a conversation about this and she noted too just how passionate the language is here. After two weeks with the host family, I am beginning to get used to people shouting and saying, what sounds like to me (but really I can’t understand), nasty things to each other, and then five minutes later laughing with each other. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I am not a shouter. I can’t remember the last time I raised my voice, let alone had a yelling match with someone. Add to this fact that no one in my family is really like that, and now you can understand my “culture shock.” Slowly (sweya sweya) I am less disturbed by their conversation, and maybe one day I will shoot lightning fast darija from my tongue while yelling at the top of my lungs in a friendly disagreement. Then maybe I can call myself Moroccan haha.
The second shock I have had since being in Morocco has been the time change—and I don’t mean the five hour time difference. I mean how things slow down here compared to the rapid speed America runs at with 24-hour just-about-anything. As my Arabic teacher said “In America, you have money, but here in Morocco, we have time.” For example, I was trying to find a gym to work out at in my neighborhood since I’ve been here. First, my host brother tells me it will be difficult to find one open because it is still Ramadan—I must wait until after the Eid. Then I get around to asking my brother this past Friday, again, not a good time—it’s Friday, the holy day in Islam (like Sunday for Christians). Finally, it is Saturday, but I can’t go to the gym between 12 and 3 in the afternoon because it’s “lunch time” (and this is typical of everyday) . Finally Saturday evening I got to sign up at the gym and there is a victory! It is open!
Besides these two adjustments, I have been having a fantastic time here and I am sure with time, these issues will fade and will become second nature. I just wanted to give a little insight into some of the lifestyle changes that living in Morocco demands.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
(above) My sister dressed up in her whole Eid costume. A few days before, on the 27th day of Ramadan, all the little boys and girls dress up. My sister even had her hair and makeup done professionally for it. She looked like a little princess (or bride haha)!
They lent me an outfit for the day, too...that I was kind of glad to give back at the end of the day...it was not the most flattering color on me :)
My brothers's Eid outfits. They looked super comfortable and they are really quite spiffy looking.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
There are nearly 200 neighborhoods within the old city, each with five components: a public fountain (for drinking water), a public bath, a mosque, a religious school (madrasa), and a public bakery. Our tour consisted of all of these. A highlight of the tour for me was visiting the oldest university in the world (yes, THE oldest) called Al-Karaouine University. It was founded in the 9th century and is still in session today. Students spend 12 years studying here , and one requirement of graduation is the full memorization of the Qu’ran. Unfortunately I could only peer through the doors for a glimpse of the place because non-Muslims in Morocco are not permitted in mosques (with one exception in Casablanca).
Friday, September 11, 2009
One of the highlights so far has been meeting some of the Fulbrighters who have been here for a year already. All of them are incredibly good at speaking Darija! Darija is the Moroccan dialect of Arabic and the language I will be studying for my first five months here. I was absolutely amazed and have no idea how they became so fluent in just one year. It gives me a lot of motivation and hope for my Darija skills!
The orientation concluded today and tomorrow we leave early for Fez, a four or five hour drive. Also, I meet my homestay family tomorrow! I am very excited to move onto a new city, but I will miss the comfort I had here in Rabat (where I spent my study abroad) of knowing how to get around. It’s been several days of speaking English, staying in a nice hotel and navigating a familiar city, but tomorrow will be a whole different story…