(Note: WordPress has stopped letting me upload pictures. I had initially written this a week ago, but was waiting to post it until I could add pictures. So this is solved, my posts are going to be solely words. The City Hall picture is the last picture I was able to get.)
So I survived my first week here! I settled into my new apartment, started my classes, and even watched a couple World Cup games. So much as happened, but at the same time, I don’t feel stressed or rushed. (I hate to repeat myself, but those of you who know me know how rare that is.)
Meknes City Hall at night
Moroccans live life at a slower pace. They don’t speed walk like we do in the States, their food takes longer to cook and eat, and many spend hours relaxing at a cafe. That’s not to say they’re lazy. Rather, they have an appreciation of life, and stop to enjoy it. When I commented on how different it was, my professor explained that a lot of it comes from the French influence. From 1912-1956, Morocco was a French protectorate. These 44 short years of influence are still very relevant today, seen in the foods (I’ve eaten crepes and croissants frequently) “cafe culture”, and the use of French in many commercial areas. It’s been amusing trying to remember what little French I had in high school (Je parle un peu francais…).
One of my favorite memories of this past week was Sunday night. It was really our first night exploring and seeing Meknes, and I loved every moment of it. A group of the Summer 2 kids went to this beautiful French restaurant/cafe and sat and talked for close to 2 hours. I ordered mint tea and a cheese crepe–both were wonderful. It takes a very special person to want to come to Morocco to study as opposed to the more traditional European countries. Because of this, the 20-something people in my program all have crazy, distinct personalities. We’ve all gotten to become very close friends. We’re from literally every corner of the United States, which is so cool to think about. I’ve had just as much fun learning about life in other parts of the United States as I have about life in Morocco!
As I mentioned earlier, I watched a few of the World Cup games this week. Monday was Algeria v. Germany, then Tuesday was United States v. Belgium. Though I’m not a big soccer (or more accurately: football) fan, I loved the game watching atmosphere. Watching the World Cup in a corner cafe would be the equivalent of watching the Superbowl in a bar. The energy and passion is unbelievable. During the Tuesday game, we were nearly the sole United States supporters. Moroccans cheered for Belgium.
But as I said: nearly. This is because we met another group of Americans! At this point, I am a firm believer that the American accents will find each other. This particular group was part of a flagship program. From what I can understand of it, they all attend universities around the United States which have very intense Arabic programs. After 3 years of intensive studies, they’re now fluent. So there’s hope for me! They were all very nice, and it was so refreshing to hear English speakers.
Though only a week in, I am already very fond of Meknes. It’s a beautiful city, and I’m so glad that I decided to study here! Until next time!