I thought I might enlighten my loyal blog following (whoever you may be) as to what I’m up to on a daily basis other than go to school. Although I am in Morocco to study abroad, I do much more than just that, and I think that what I do in my free time is probably the most important part of expanding my experience here.
Every day first thing in the morning, I have Arabic class, then sometimes it is followed by Darija class. After that, I normally stop by one of the little shops (hanouts) that sell basically everything- overflowing piles of oranges, tons of cookies/crackers, yogurt, bread, toilet paper, you name it. There is one on the corner by school where the owner has come to recognize some of us when we come to buy lunch food. We try to speak to him in Arabic and he normally responds in a combination of French, English, and Arabic. If I don’t have class right after Arabic class, I walk with a few friends to a gigantic park nearby where we can run. Since I can’t get my usual exercise in via gymnastics here, I have turned my exercise regimen into running and a little conditioning in this park. Sometimes my friend Bri, also a gymnast, and I do handstands and other tricks in the grass. I guess that will have to suffice until I return to my gym at home.
I have just started going to my internship placement for my Community Based Learning class. Two to three days a week after class, I am working at an organization that helps women who didn’t go to school or who didn’t finish school learn some skills so they can get jobs. So far, I have helped the director do basic tasks like organize things and file papers, but last Thursday I got to sit in on a baking class. I was around a big table of women who were all taking notes as the instructor demonstrated how to make at least five different types of Moroccan cookies. I sat up close so I could get a good look, and I tried to decipher what ingredients were going into the cookies as the instructor explained the recipe in super fast Darija. The best part? Sampling some of our handiwork at the end.
The building where this internship is located is in the middle of the old medina, and every time after I leave, I love to wander around the main shopping street looking through the usual shoe and scarf stands, but I am always caught off guard by something really random for sale, usually on a table right in the middle of the street, like live turtles or some unrecognizable fruit in a cart.
When I’m not at my internship or doing my homework, a standard after-class activity is going to a café with some friends. Choosing the right café is tricky- you have to know which ones are cafés frequented by only men (or as we have dubbed them, man-fés), which ones have the best mint tea, the cheapest sandwiches, etc. Cafés here have their own culture. If there is one thing I have learned here, it is the art of sitting and killing time. You can order one glass of tea and make that your excuse to sit at a table for over two hours and just talk and people-watch.
Lastly, when I return to my homestay, a great thing to do is just kick back in the living room and try (in vain, normally) to figure out what’s happening on the latest episode of one of the zillion soap operas dubbed into Darija. Moroccans absolutely love their TV dramas, especially the Turkish ones. Sometimes I’ll bring my homework into the living room and try to finish it there if I have some left to do before dinner, which is at about 9pm (at the earliest!). So there you go, a snapshot of my life outside of school. Although I have a lot of school related work to do, I do manage to get out and just enjoy the city every day, which is my favorite part of being here.