When I applied to study abroad I was sure of two things; it’s a once in a life time opportunity and it has to be somewhere special and not common. So when the question of where to go came up, it was clear to me that I wasn’t going to England or Italy, so I decided to try Morocco. I picked Morocco thinking of beautiful Marrakech and beautiful Casablanca. Little did I know I was going to be placed in Rabat, a city I hadn’t heard much about before. To be fair I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to Morocco, and I am going to spend my time here trying to fix that.
I am in Rabat precisely the old Medina, one of the oldest places in the city of Rabat in Morocco. This place is nothing like what I was expecting, but is for sure everything that I need. (Outside my comfort zone).
When my plane landed in Paris, I realized my sweater and my coat were too warm. I decided to buy me a little bag to pack my warm clothes and keep on my shirt. Once that was done, I went to sit on my gate where I met a lot of students from SIT. It was good to wait in a group instead of alone. I met couple cool people, but since most of them are not in the Journalism program I don’t see them often now.
At the Airport in Rabat we waited for about an hour. I was soooooo thirsty but couldn’t drink water because we were told not to drink tap water so I stayed thirsty for an hour. When our group leaders finally came to pick us up, they had brought bottle waters with them (YAAY). We each picked our bottle and set in the bus. About 25 minutes later we got to our hotel.
It is very important that you understand that this was not the same as getting into the Hilton in Burlington, VT. First off there was a entrance to the Old Medina. It looked like an old building, a church entrance, or something like that. We took our luggage, went to the lobby and were given our keys. I shared a room with two other girls; Kelsey and Katherine. They are both pretty cool (Details over text). On our first night we took a walk around the market in Medina. It looked sketchy but was very beautiful to see. They were selling Shawarma everywhere, but since they were from the street I didn’t get any. That night I couldn’t sleep what so ever. I missed my home and my people so so much, it hurt. I was doing my best to cry quietly so I wouldn’t wake my roomates. If I remember corectly I cried until I ran out of tears. I really really needed a hug, but didn’t dare asking for one. Instead I stayed in bed and prayed that God protects my loved ones back home.
My roommates and I are in the same program so every day we had the same schedule. For the first week we went to center in the morning and went back to our hotel room around 6pm. We had breakfast at the hotel (nothing impressive), lunch and dinner at the center. The food at the center did not meet my expectations, I guess it’s true when they say that expectations get you disappointed. Today was different, my roommate and I decided to take a girl from our program out to eat shawarma. Really it was me that kept insisting that we go eat Shawarma. The shawarma was DELICIOUS as you can expect (my expectations did me well).
Earlier on during the week we had an information session on home stays. During the session we were told that some of us would live outside the Medina. I am not going to lie but I was really hoping that my family will be from outside. We also learned that some of us would have Turkish toilet instead of the “western” toilets. OH GOD! That freaked me out. (Good news, my family has a western toilet).
On Tuesday I met my host mom and sister, they were all so nice to me. “She has been waiting for you and wouldn’t stop talking about you,” my host mom told me about my host sister. My host mom looks very young and looked genuinely happy so see me. “I’ve always wanted another daughter,’ said my host most “I ask God everyday to give me another daughter.” She has two boys, one is 14 the other is 2, and a girl (my host little sister) is 10.
I am excited and nervous to go live with them. I am excited to learn more about the Moroccan culture and their daily life, but a little scared to not like it. Old Medina is my home for the next 13 weeks and I am going to learn from it as much as I can.