If there is anything that I know after being in Rabat for almost a week, it’s that there is so much I don’t yet know or understand about this city, its people, and daily life here. I do, however, have a lot of first impressions (enough to fill about 5 pages in my little journal). I’m sure these impressions will develop further as I start to learn more and more about life in Rabat, or perhaps they’ll completely be overturned as I start to get a better sense of the environment I’m in. For now, they are all I have to rely on as I go about my days, navigating multiple languages, the medina, and an unfamiliar (but very welcoming) culture.
One of my first experiences in Morocco gave me a sense of just how welcoming the culture and the people of Morocco are. Arriving at the Casablanca airport, AMIDEAST had organized a driver to pick up me and another girl in my program who were on the same flight. We were greeted by Yousef, a young Moroccan working for his dad’s company as a driver for tourists or people traveling from the airports. Even though it was the middle of the night, Yousef approached us with a smile and was also all too willing to volunteer to take both of our 50lb. bags. The drive to Rabat, where I expected little conversation due to our fatigue, was filled with conversation about Morocco, the US, and even sports rivalries. He attempted to teach us some basic words of Darija and laughed at our attempts. By the time the ride was over, I had forgotten the fact that I hadn’t slept in over 15 hours and already felt welcome in a very unfamiliar place.
All of the other people I have met have lived up to the expectations set by Yousef on our ride from Casablanca. Everyone is hospitable, interested in where I am from and what I am doing, and ready to answer my questions and ease my anxieties. My 13-year-old host sister is definitely the most concerned about any anxieties or problems I may have. She has already asked me three times how I find her room, which I am currently living in. Its walls are bubblegum pink, but the best part is the Hannah Montana clock hanging above the bed. I tell her pink is my favorite color.
I’m excited to continue to discover new things about the culture, practice my language skills, become more comfortable in my home stay, at the center, and navigating the city, and actually convince my host sister that I really do love the dolphin poster, the Hannah Montana clock, and the Belle nightlight.
By the way, did I mention Rabat is beautiful?