Tag Archives: Beach

“Fresh Air and Fresh Perspectives” by Allison Brady

When we first arrived in Morocco, our orientation included a warning that all study abroad students will go through many different stages of emotion in their relationship to their new host country.  These involve honeymoon periods in which everything seems “shiny and new,” periods in which everything becomes overwhelming, and even periods of resentment due to the change and homesickness.  There’s no set rule of how these feelings progress, and some days I have experienced a little bit of each all in the same day. During the first few weeks, most of my time felt like the “honeymoon” stage.  I fell in love with Rabat and the people around me.  I still love Rabat and every part of my life here.  However, as the stress of midterms has crept up and combined with daily stressors of navigating a new culture, I have admittedly experienced a higher percentage of the latter emotions lately.

Sometimes in Morocco, I feel exactly like the girl pictured here:

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Rabat may be smaller than cities like Casablanca or Marrakesh, but it shares the same loud character, busy, crowded streets, and fast pace. This is not necessarily a bad thing!  I often love feeling swept up in the bustle, noise, and movement of people going about their lives.  What might seem like “chaos” or “disorder” to someone accustomed to tamer Midwest city avenues can also feel exciting and full of vibrant life. However, it also makes going out and about an event that requires me to stay on my toes, whether it is to avoid being run over by wild traffic, or to mentally steel myself against street harassment.

To me, the biggest change in perception living here has been of feeling comfortable in the busyness and noise of a bustling city, to then having the need to be alert to urban realities grow tiring.  So, I took a break from them!  Even though it was the weekend before midterms, I decided I needed a daytrip out of the city.  I went to the beautiful and calm seafront village of Asilah. I spent the 3-4 hour train ride studying and watching the landscape change from Rabat, to desert, to rolling hills of the Mid-Atlas until we reached the coast again further north.  I then spent the day strolling through pristine and art-covered walls of Asilah’s gorgeous old medina, and sank my feet into the sand and ocean water to breath in the fresh wind.

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It was a good reminder that my frustrations were not truly with “Morocco”: this experience was part of Morocco too! I also thought about how it would be if I lived in a smaller, subdued town like Asilah. After just a few hours, I felt like I had seen most of it.  I was constantly bemused at how empty and devoid of life the streets seemed in comparison to the rambunctious crowds of Rabat’s old medina. I am glad that Morocco contains so much to explore and so many different kinds of places to experience, and I came back to Rabat ready to rejoin the throngs of locals also experiencing the many joys and risks of city life.  Now, I am about to leave again; this time, for Italy for Fall Break. I am excited to again get some outside perspective from Morocco, but I am equally eager to return to the people and places that are my crazy beautiful home

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Filed under Allison Brady, Morocco, Uncategorized

“Fun in the Sun” by Dan Fitzgerald

Studying abroad is a lot like going into a new relationship. You start out in that honeymoon phase where everything is new and adventurous, you are excited by every little thing, and you can’t possibly imagine what life was like before it. But then that honeymoon phase ends and you realize that the world is still spinning and suddenly things aren’t as interesting anymore. You finally realize your significant other has little quirks that annoy you and the spark that once arose in you by every little thing is going out. Typically, in a relationship one of two things could happen: you either break it off as there is nothing left to inspire you, or you find that raw spark in all the little things that truly makes you happy. If you haven’t caught on already, I’m talking about my relationship with Morocco.

I am more than half way done with my semester abroad in Morocco and I am certainly out of the honeymoon phase. I soon realized that outside of studying for class, eating, and sleeping, I have a lot of free time on my hand. I don’t know about you, but free time is my worst enemy, as I become bored and restless very easily. Most people abroad, especially those in Europe, would solve this by traveling more, but even extensive travel was starting to wear me down (as well as wear my bank account down). So where do I go when I need to cure my angst? The beach.

 

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I know what you are thinking. “Dan, that is so stereotypical. Of course, everyone loves the beach. This isn’t something unique to Morocco.” You’re right, but cool your jets, because the beach here in Rabat is much more than your average beach back in the States. I frequent the “Plages de Salé” so much that I will most likely go there today once I finish this blog post. It’s a large beach that lies next to the Oued Bou Regreg river and the Atlantic Ocean. The place is magical especially in the evening as the sun sets on the water and bathes the Rabat Kasbah in an orange glow. It’s also the perfect place to let loose with both my American friends and meet some new people, especially when it comes to volleyball.

One Friday in February, a bunch of AMIDEAST students and myself decided to meet at this beach after couscous lunch to play some soccer and volleyball on the beach. We all meet up, draw our volleyball court in the sand, and start the match. In all honesty, we all chose to play volleyball because we knew we would make fools of ourselves in front of Moroccans if we played soccer. But soon all the Moroccans playing soccer matches around us started watching us play volleyball and soon joined in a classic Morocco v. United States volleyball match. This match could have lasted until the sun set, but strangely enough a large cloud of fog blanketed the entire beach. That’s when we had to call the match a draw even though the Moroccans clearly beat us, but that will be our little secret.

 

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Besides the views and activities on this beach, my favorite things about Plages de Salé is that it is only place where I have found Moroccans outside of their comfort zones. I’m talking about real Moroccan couples enjoying time together, Moroccans playing with their dogs in the ocean, parents building sand castles with their children, the list could go on. What I have found is that Moroccans operate their lives very differently between the spheres of public and private, making it hard to see Moroccans as who they really are. But here on this beach, I see their vulnerability more than ever. I see them enjoying life.

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Filed under Area & Arabic Language Studies, Dan Dan Fitzgerald, Morocco, Rabat, Uncategorized