First Impressions of Morocco

Getting Acquainted with Morocco:

The excitement of arriving in a new country immediately filled everyone’s hearts the moment we landed. Although most people were exhausted by the long flight, we quickly hit the ground running. The very next day, the CCCL (Center for Cross-Cultural Learning) gave us a lesson on navigating Moroccan culture. Some of the fun techniques we learned included saying “assalam alaykum” (peace be upon you) with men’s voice to avoid catcalling. In the following days, we had Darija lessons and learned how to bargain. We immediately applied what we learned on streets during an activity. Some of us persistently said “bzaf” (too much) or “Ana dhaliba” (I’m a student) and successfully bought souvenirs that we wanted including paintings, handmade bags and many more. Moreover, we went to the beach to see sunset during one night. The sunset was beautiful: the bright red sun sink into the dark blue ocean paints a tremendous view. The first couple days in Rabat are fulfilling and interesting. We can’t wait for the upcoming journey.

– Rain

A look back at the plane that brought us here!

The gorgeous sunset on the Atlantic in Rabat.

With only being in Morocco for a few days, I have already experienced more than I thought I would encounter within two weeks. One of the experiences I had was when our group of thirteen Experimenters split up into small groups of three or four. Within these small groups we went to have lunch with a Moroccan family right in Rabat. At first I was very scared to have lunch in someone’s home that I did not know and I was also worried about the major language barrier between us Experimenters and the host family. My host family for the day was a young woman who looked to be in her early thirties and her seven year old son. At first our small group of three Experimenters all tried our best to communicate in Darija, the Moroccan version of Arabic. We asked the mother what her child’s name was and we spoke about how much we love Morocco while we gestured at my small Moroccan Arabic phrase book. As we continued butchering the various phrases, the mother led us through the  streets to different vendors where she picked up some juice and bread. Soon after, we made it to her home and climbed the steps of an apartment complex until we reached the roof where her home resided. On the roof, there were two rooms separated from each other. One was the kitchen and the other was a joint room with the dining room, living room, and bathroom in total about the size of a regular American bedroom. Once we stepped into her home we took of our shoes and she then led us into the living room/ dining room/ bathroom. Inside, sectional couches lined either side of the room with a large orange tapestry separating them from each other. In front of the largest sectional, there was a small square table with chairs all around that acted as the dining room. In front of the other couch, a television stood on top of a large dresser. Soon after we visually took in her home, she had us wash our hands and begin eating lunch. The food that was prepared was phenomenal! It consisted of salad with thin slices of onion and other vegetables, a rice dish with pieces of tuna and crab, and for the main dish there was a beef tajine with potatoes, carrots, peas and green beans that was all eaten using our fingers and the bread that our host mother bought from a vendor. After we finished eating we all sat around the television with our young host sibling watching a Moroccan version of The Lion King. We spent quite some time just playing games on the seven year old’s tablet and on one of our group member’s phone until our host mother called us back and had us put on traditional Moroccan clothing. The clothes were made with vibrant colors of green and gold with hats and belts in white and gold. Then our host mother had us sit around a table with the classic Moroccan staple of sweet mint tea and we then took a group picture with her son. After the picture, we wrapped up our day with our host family by sitting around the table and talking in French with the family. We talked about the tea and Fes and how we were heading there soon. The mother told us about how she had done this before and loved it. The mother even emphasized that we now had a family in Morocco if we ever needed it. What makes this experience so incredible was that this woman and her family took us into their lives and treated us as one of their own and then extended a loving hand to say that she would never blink an eye if we ever needed her help which is truly a powerful thing because what it says is that no matter your origins there is always a home for you across the world… somewhere.

– Senan

The Experimenters got to try on Moroccan clothing from all over the country and learn about its history and significance.

Rabat is a beautiful place that’s full of a myriad of colors every step you take. There’s a beach that’s great for taking sunset photos and very nice Moroccans who are willing to help if you get lost. The Medina (the market area) is full of different stands selling all sorts of items and clothing. The most fun I’ve had at there is bargaining with the owners and buying an item for half the price and learning a bit of Arabic. When our group split up to visit different families in the city, we were welcomed in their homes and were able to have lunch with them: tagine with fries. It was the second time here in Morocco that I’ve had that and I love the different flavors the chicken brings. The twelve year old daughter spoke good enough English for us to have a decent conversation with a few of our host mother’s interjections to explain what we’ve said. The fifteen-year-old son, who didn’t speak English as well, did some good dances for us to different music videos that were either in Spanish or Arabic. After lunch, we were able to play a game that’s like Picture-It, but the explanation was very rigorous for us to understand so it was a mix of charades at the same time. Overall, I had a wonderful time getting to know our host family and teaching them new words.

– Tessa

Some home decor for sale in the Rabat Medina.

Some Experimenters in their lunch host’s traditional Moroccan clot