The fall semester has truly begun! I have bought new notebooks, classes have started, and the temperature is now a more manageable at 80 °F. In general, life is a bit more manageable and less overwhelming. I am growing more and more comfortable in my homestay and in my new neighborhood. During the week, I bring lunch to AMIDEAST to eat between classes. Since grocery shopping is a part of my weekly routine, I get to explore my neighborhood more. I know the route to the main grocery store in the neighborhood and where to buy the best lettuce. I’m still deciding which small shop, hanout in Moroccan dialect. I love stumbling across new potential favorites. Whether I’m headed to class, the park, or to buy groceries – I love walking around. There are so many beautiful flowers!
My time so far in Morocco has been filled with so much learning across every subject imaginable. Out and about, I’ve learned about my neighborhood and started adjusting to crossing the street amidst very different patterns of traffic. Every day, I continue to learn more, from Arabic case ending rules and post-colonial politics to where the plates are kept in my host family’s kitchen. I never realized how many utensils, vegetables, and different types of fruit belong in the kitchen. Even just on the spice rack there is so much vocabulary! After trying to fit so many new words in my brain, I appreciate escaping to the patio area that is shared with the other apartments. The patio corner is filled with so much greenery and fresh air.
I am so grateful to my host family for their generosity, patience, and understanding. I am always asking questions like, how do you say this and what is that called, again? I am especially appreciative of my host family’s understanding and accommodation of my diet. I have a dairy allergy and I am vegetarian which makes my host family’s life more complicated. My host mom, who is a very experienced cook, always makes sure that I eat enough delicious Moroccan food. Before dinner I often find myself in the kitchen, trying to learn how to replicate dishes by watching and trying to remember the long list of spices that all go in the pot.
Last Friday, my host mom started to teach Mariah, my roommate who is also from the US, and I how to make couscous. Friday lunch is the most special meal of the week in Moroccan culture and it takes place after Friday afternoon prayer. While my host mom makes cooking couscous look easy, there are many steps and ingredients involved. We made two different kinds of couscous, one with meat and a smaller vegetarian version filled with squash, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, and onions for me. I’m looking forward to more Friday afternoons spent in the kitchen together chatting about topics from class and, hopefully, learning words like fork and cilantro.
I am trying to understand so much and taking in so much information that I end up misunderstanding somethings. For example, the other day I learned I had misunderstood how many children my host parents have. They actually have only have one son, not two, that lives in London. My host parents do, however, have two grandchildren in London. I’m taking my mistakes in stride, owning up to them and learning to laugh at the confusion.
Until next time!