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Kadie: Life in Morocco!

March 6, 2011

I’m now all settled in with my new family, and let me tell YOU– it was so nice to FINALLY unpack! My room here is HUGE, and it has two beds in it…apparently this is because they have hosted two students at once before. Actually, it seems they’ve hosted quite a bit in the past, as there are all sorts of books and calendars and coffee mugs from various places decorating the modest apartment. Anyway, there is my host mother, this sweet, little Arab woman who dotes on me way more than is necessary. And I have an 18-year old host brother, who is still a bit shy, and he’s only ever asked me three direct questions…but I think he’s warming up to me? Neither one of them speaks any English…so that’s been fun…haha. Luckily, my Arabic skills are getting me pretty far, or at least they have been since I moved in. There’s still quite a bit of hand gesturing and mumbling about, but we make do. My would-be host-father passed away six years ago now, and as we were comparing stories on the night I moved in, I realized how very similar this family in Fes is to my own back in Wisconsin. Ironic much? I feel like I’m living in what would be the equivalent of the exact counter part of my family, only halfway across the world. And, while the similarities are striking, they all add up to even further proof that I am exactly where I should be right now. I feel so at home here already and while I have no idea how the rest of the semester will turn out, I know that being here, with this family, is the right thing for me right now. I couldn’t be more positive.

As far as our home goes…there’s no internet, which, sadly, has been really difficult to get used to for me.  There’s also no real toilet…it’s just a porcelain hole in the ground…that’s also been fun to get used to. But otherwise, everything about my new living situation is just swell. I live in an area of the old Medina of Fes called Ziate, and a few of the other students are really close by, so we can walk through the winding alleyways together. (This city really is a giant labyrinth…it took me three days to really remember how to get to and from my home!) The view from my rooftop terrace is absolutely breathtaking, and I love being able to hear the Ithan (Call to Prayer) every day. Walking through these streets is quite the experience, as donkeys and carts laden with fruits and/or bread, as well as motorcycles and bright-red taxis try to squeeze themselves in to the smallest of streets. It’s funny because this ancient Islamic city actually reminds me a lot of the old city of Jerusalem…they’re so very similar in so many ways…

My schedule is now officially put together, and it’s going to be a DOOZY. I will have 20 hours of Classical Arabic instruction per week, along with another 4 hours of Arabic literature (which is being taught entirely in Arabic…ahhh!!!!) and then another hour and a half of Moroccan History and Culture. THAT means I have over 25 hours of class each week, and only one of those hours will be in English. AND that’s not including homework. AND my host family doesn’t speak English. Haha…it’s sure to be quite the challenge I guess?

For now, I’m super excited about it all, and I have literally no real complaints. (Key word being “real”—I don’t count whining about not having internet as a real complaint). This weekend my host mother will be taking me to a local Hammam, and I’m going to go with the family on their weekly souq-run (shopping in the traditional open-air markets). And MAYBE catch up on some much needed-rest, and anticipated load of homework.

There’s SO MUCH to look forward to and to learn about and to be thankful for here. Life is “mezzian” for now. (Arabic for “wonderful” or “magnificent”…strikingly close to the Hebrew word interestingly enough….)

OH and here’s a few pictures of my time here so far, but I’ll have lots more soon!:


Leather Tanneries in the old Fes Medina


View of the Fes Medina from the Southern Palace…umm yes, this is my new home!!


And THIS is the view from my roof!!


My street view from the roof!

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