So, I’m absolutely horrible at updating these things, but my Internet connectivity is sporadic at best so I’m going to use that as my excuse. Morocco is still fabulous. I have so many things to say, but I have no will and no way to describe them all, so I’ll focus on my homestay family…
There are 39 students in my program and each of us are given a Moroccan family to live with (inside the Medina). This way we can practice our Arabic (or French in most cases) and get a genuine feel of the culture. I love my homestay. I have the craziest mother ever (she is a matchmaker/wedding planner and she use to be a nurse), a calm father that owns a shoe shop (how perfect is that?), 6 siblings and a variety of other people that come and go. I live in a traditional house in the Medina (which means that the center courtyard has no ceiling and is technically “outside”). My siblings are Wafaa (28 and pregnant–due in a couple of weeks), Samira (25) + her son Mohammed (5, everyone calls him Ghalil, which means little one), Tariq (26), Abdellah (22 and the only one that speaks English), Marium (16), and Khadia (10). I have absolutely no privacy and all of my personal possessions are now family property (and by family I mostly mean Mariam.) I don’t mind though because anything that I want to be my own I keep in my little closet area and I don’t show the family.
They all speak Arabic (derija+fusha) and French. Abdellah is the only one that speaks English, and they all know a couple of English words and phrases. I’m glad though because it is forcing me to work on my Arabic like none other. I’m getting to the point where I can understand Mariam, who speaks so fast its not even funny, when she’s speaking Fusha. In general, I cannot believe how my language skills are like night and day (in a very very good way). I’m really irritated because I know that once get back to Macon I’ll be up shit creek again. Everyone that I’ve met that has taken Arabic before coming here has had it handed to them on a silver platter–great teachers, wonderful facilities and a supportive faculty. I have had to work my ass off to get Ines to have class…*rolls eyes* It just seems very unfair in the grand scheme of things that I am working so hard to master this language, when Macon takes the credit but offers no assistance.
So that was my tirade for the day. More about my homestay….Like I was saying, I love my little sister Mariam. She is such a teenage girl, but she is so much fun to be around and despite our language barriers, we have the best time. I taught her how to play pick up sticks, and we take walks around the Medina laughing about everything. You know I’ve made a lot of observations about language barriers since I have been here. The biggest one is that they don’t matter. I know enough Arabic to be able to have minimal conversations with my family, but I still absolutely love them. I have discovered each one’s individual personalities, fears, and dreams without speaking their language. There is so much to be gained by listening and watching. The way that someone talks about a subject communicates their feelings more than their words do.
You know, though, some days here are just exhausting. I have new cultural experiences about 20 times a day, and about 75% of my day is spent attempting to speak Arabic. A few of my friends and I were talking about how this definitely was not the program to come on if you wanted to drink your life away and stay in your comfort zone. This is a Muslim country which means that alcohol is hard to come by and I have’t seen my comfort zone for 25 days. Despite all of that I am having the time of my life, and I love every moment (good and bad).
Anyway, I need to be home by 7, and it takes 15 minutes to walk from here to the Medina. Yes, I have a homestay complete with worrying mother that wants to know where I am at all times. It’s ok though because I have that in the states so it’s nothing new.