This summer I embarked on a journey to conduct research abroad in Morocco! (You can read about Tori’s pre-trip excitement.) It was an amazing experience and I find myself missing bits and pieces of this mystical place every day. While my time two months abroad are hard to compress, I hope this list of the top five things I will miss about Morocco gives you a glimpse into the different culture this North African country has to offer.
Large group photo of students.
Our dear friends.
We arrived in Morocco with no pre-made plans on how we were going to get connected with fellow students. It was simply fate when we met with a student group called “Be Positive”, who are focused on learning about and connecting with other cultures. These people became our companions quickly and are who I spent the majority of the two months abroad with. This was, in my opinion, the best part of the trip. They traveled with us, took us to all the cool places in Agadir (where I lived in Morocco), and even invited us into their homes. We grew close with their family as we spent many Iftar meals with them. Iftar is the meal in which Muslims break fast during the month of Ramadan. Another major bonus was they lived right in our neighborhood! It was so easy to hangout and they taught us how to navigate the bus system (thankfully, otherwise we would have done WAY more walking than necessary).
Celebrating 4th of July with Moroccan friends
Morocco friends of 4th of July
The exchange rate.
All I can say is that I miss how easy Morocco was on my bank account. Although the flight over was fairly spendy, the exchange rate for Morocco is AMAZING. Moroccans use dirhams as their currency and 1 dirham is equivalent to $0.10. Each of my meals only cost roughly $2-$3. And a train ride clear across the country was only $15. It’s safe to say I’m going to miss those dirhams.
Msemen, Mint Tea, and Fresh OJ
These were by FAR my favorite treats in Morocco. Msemen is a Moroccan crepe- it’s a lot like lefse but a little thicker. It is a popular item at breakfast as it is served with jam, honey, and amlou – which is a lot like almond butter but mixed with argan oil. Along with Msemen, they also serve mint tea and fresh OJ. Mint tea is nicknamed “Moroccan whiskey” because they serve it in teeny-tiny glasses all day long. The fresh OJ always quenched my thirst – I had never had such delicious juice before!
Msemen & OJ
Pouring Mint Tea
The present-day mindset
Americans tend to always be on the go; multi-tasking, getting as much done ahead of time as possible, etc. It is the total opposite in Morocco. As a developing country, they tend to worry simply about what is in front of them and have comfort in knowing they cannot control the future. They truly carry the “Don’t worry, Be happy” mindset throughout their everyday life. While this was hard to adjust to at first, I miss this part of their culture – especially now during midterm season.
In Morocco, there aren’t many grocery stores. Instead, they shop in areas called souks. Souks are within the medina walls and have tight walkways filled with a variety of items to buy. On your left there can be fruits and vegetables, chicken, dates, etc. and on your right, someone can be selling sandals, pants, rugs, and paintings. You can buy EVERYTHING in the souk, which is nice and convenient. Another interesting thing about the souk is the haggling. In Morocco, you are allowed to bargain on a price with the shopkeeper. At first, this was nerve-racking. I didn’t know the language or understand what a good price was, but after a short while I was hooked (more like addicted) on haggling with those in the souk. I still go to Target today and have the desire to bargain for a better price on a scarf. Sometimes the shopkeepers will even let you have a better deal “just because you are beautiful”, haha!
Stay tuned for the next blog on Top Five Things to Do in Morocco!!
Photo source: Tori