It’s a Tuesday afternoon. You are sitting in the student lounge at AMIDEAST Rabat. Your classes are done for the day, your Arabic homework is finished, you examined a few case studies for Contemporary Moroccan Culture, and you have a life to live! Rabat has a lot to offer you as a student of the world, and it would be a shame to not take as much of it in as possible. So, in the spirit of Buzzfeed and other silly lists, here are the TOP 10 THINGS TO DO WHILE STUDYING ABROAD IN RABAT.
1. Falafel and Hummus from Nablus in Agdal
Admittedly, falafel and hummus is not quite Moroccan cuisine, but if it’s 12 pm on a Wednesday and you want a filling, delicious, and wonderfully priced lunch, Nablus will more than suffice. It is located about 10 min. walking south from AMIDEAST in a small shopping center. Nablus also has a sound selection of other Middle Eastern dishes that are sure to satisfy any student after a trying day in Modern Standard Arabic 301.
2. Catch a Concert in Chellah
Chellah is the oldest part of Rabat and features ruins that date back to Roman times and beyond, as well as a spring that is said to have healing powers. In addition to being a great place for an afternoon stroll, Chellah also hosts a number of concerts in the warmer months. Everything from Andalusian-Miles Davis Jazz Fusion to any one of the countless and popular Moroccan musical genres has been heard here. Sometimes these concerts are free!
3. Afternoon Tea with your Host Family
It happens everyday, and you will have a glass set aside for you. This is a prime opportunity to practice your Moroccan Arabic and connect on a deeper level with the people who are taking care of you for the semester. At afternoon tea, you hear news about the family, about Rabat, and can ask honest questions concerning cultural differences and Moroccan life.
4. Go for a Run on the Coast or in Park Hilton
A friend of mine always says, “Without your health, you’ve got no wealth.” This cannot be stressed enough when you live and work in a completely new environment and culture. Staying fit helps with the transition process and a brisk jaunt in the Park Hilton or on the Coast Highway is a great option. Keep in mind that it is best to do this during the day whilst wearing appropriate attire.
5. Enjoy an Espresso at Café Balima
Café culture is an undeniable part of living in Rabat. Even if you do not like coffee, Café Balima, with its central location minutes away from the train station, Parliament, and the medina, is a great place to unwind with friends and people watch.
6. Go to the Hamman
The public bathhouse that is the hamman is an experience not to be neglected. You will never feel cleaner than after a vigorous, yet relaxing stint at your local hammam. Certain facilities feature more amenities than others, but it is always a good idea to bring your own soap and shampoo.
7. Talk to Taxi Drivers
This is another great way to strengthen your language abilities! More often than not, the drivers will be very surprised and impressed that you are studying their language, and may themselves prove to be a good source of information about good restaurants and other things to do in Rabat.
8. Explore the Medina
Every major city in Morocco has an old medina, Rabat being no exception. The medina is a perfect place to find anything you may need during your time here. Items range from “IPods,” fresh produce, snail soup, clothes, toiletries, and countless other curious wares. You will get lost (and that’s alright).
9. Spend Eid in Rabat
If you are able to, stick around for the Eid festivities that take place every fall. This is an important holiday to all practicing Muslims, as it commemorates the sacrifice of Abraham. Families try to get a choice ram and spend the day sacrificing, preparing, and eating the meat. It is a day steeped in historical and emotional weight for the entire country.
10. Take the Train
The Moroccan rail network is a great way to get around for easy and affordable day/weekend trips. To start, you could purchase a 15 dirham (approx. $1.85) ticket to Skhirat for a great beach and good waves. The trains are reliable and great ways to see the Moroccan countryside.
It is important to remember self-care when you’re studying abroad. Whether that means establishing a scheduled routine, spur-of-the-moment wanderlust, or simply unwinding with your host family, prioritizing a section of time for yourself at some point during the week is a must. This allows one a time to process and digest experiences or to assess personal goals. Use this time to discover Rabat and delve further into Moroccan culture. If anything, use it as an opportunity to take a step back, breath deep, and watch.