Hostess, friend, and language partner

Nejlae is an incredible woman. She holds a degree in English from the University of Rabat, she speaks flawless English and Arabic, and she’s been a phenomenal friend the last eight weeks. I’m going to miss her and her spunky attitude–but hopefully she’ll be able to enroll in a Masters Program in the states in the future. If not, I’ll have to come back to Morocco to visit her soon!

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Hostess, friend, and language partner

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Al-Kitaab, the ocean, and a cup of mint tea. This is Morocco in a nutshell–I’m constantly balancing studying and sightseeing, vocabulary practice and conversation, healthy-eating and helaweat (sweets). This picture is an attempt at balance–a small group of us lugged our textbooks to the ocean to study one afternoon. Turns out study abroad can be done with vocabulary drills and adventures.

Balance

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Language Partners

One of my favorite parts of this program: A Moroccan girl named Nejlaa. She’s 21, a college graduate (English), and gifted with a bubbly and warm personality. We meet twice a week for a total of three hours to speak Arabic. We usually talk about politics or culture, differences between the US and Morocco (she’s never been to the USA), and all of the Ramadan sweets. She’s served as a sounding-board for some of my most jumbled thoughts this summer–I’ve appreciated her conversation, encouragement, and dedication. This picture was taken at a carnival just outside of Tangier–a few of us hopped in a taxi and spent an afternoon wandering around.

Language Partners

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Our group took an “Imperial City” trip to Fez and Meknes this weekend. Among the things we saw were the city gates, famous mosques, and a ridiculous amount of donkeys. Fez is one of the oldest cities in Morocco–and she smells like it. We stopped by a tailor shop, a pottery shop, and a tannery.

I spent a lot of time in Fez and Meknes noticing the juxtaposition of old things and new things–Moroccan culture is paradoxical in a way. Beautiful cities smell awful, cold wind makes a 100 degree day feel chilly, and colored paint is chipped and cracked. Moroccan culture is also very traditional–the shoes in the upper picture are traditionally worn by both men and women in many colors. Especially as Ramadan approaches (month of Fasting), traditional food and dress start to appear more frequently.

During our trip, we also stopped at the ruins of Volubulis (“Malili” in Arabic). It was 100 degrees out, and there was no breeze, but we made a fun morning of it. I’ve never been to Europe (unless you count the airports in Frankfort and Barca) but it sure felt like Rome to me. I felt pretty much at home in the entrance of the “parliament” area of the city–my Poli Sci Profs would be proud!

This week was also the Fourth of July (Eiid Istiqlaal) and we celebrated by having barbeque and going to the beach. The BBQ lacked hamburgers, potato salad and Coke, but it was still a tasty treat. I snapped a few pictures of some friends on the beach–the wind was outrageous but it was still a nice break from homework.

Adventures in Fez and Meknes

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Asilah is an old Portuguese city by the Mediterranean. Its known for its cleanliness, its tourism, and its beautiful art. Asilah is home to several art festivals every year, and in the meantime, artists display their work in the form of murals on city’s walls. I snapped a few photos of the artwork and architecture I loved. The wind was ridiculous on the beach, but that didn’t stop me from riding a camel! It was a little scary at first, but after he stood up, it was just like riding a horse. All in all, an excellent day in a gorgeous city.

A Trip to Asilah

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I decided to use my weekend off to get to know Tangier by staying with a family who lives not too far from where I go to school. We spent the day today at the beach (my first time ever at the ocean), eating fish tagine, and playing UNO. It was a great day–I was reminded of my own family back in Minnesota. The water was colder than I expected but warmer than Lake Superior, and I collected a bunch of shells from the beach. There was a ton of wind and everything smelled of salt water and faintly of fish. Three of my classmates (Tam, Nadirah, and Eliza) came with and we spent the night hanging out with this family after they had just returned from a traditional Moroccan wedding. All in all,  it was an incredibly eye-opening experience and I hope to be able to stay with this family again

before the summer is over!

Homestay in Tangier

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Our group traveled to Tetuan (A city by the sea) by bus last weekend. It was a hot trip–the bus had no AC–but it was worth it for the view. We also visited two museums and wandered through the old city.

View from the Roof

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