Thursday, June 23, 2011

Have I mentioned we live under a plastic roof?

     Today is the fourth day of class here and it is going amazingly well. There are six people in my class and we have two teachers. At 10am we have a two hour block with Mustafah, and at 4pm we have another two hour block with Achmed. After only a few days, we can already read and write Arabic. It's amazing how fast this is moving! In between the classes, a lot of people stay at ALIF or at cafes nearby to do homework or just chill. I love this time because I have internet and I can meet a ton of people from around the world who also have the desire to learn Arabic. There are about 200 students taking classes here, which is a record high. The building is a converted villa which is basically a really nice older home. Although many people imagine Morocco as an exotic destination where I will be sitting in a garden eating figs all day, it is unfortunately not. I am NOT on a vacation as many people imagine that I am. I go to class for four hours and do homework for about the same amount of time. When classes are done, I go home to a large greenhouse because the roof is made of plastic and does not let air in or out. 
     Before I came to Morocco I was worried about the dress and culture. I believed I even wrote a post about it below. People had warned me not to bring clothes that showed below my elbow, my collar bone, or my legs. I was also told that I would want to wear a scarf as to not attract attention to myself. Although some women are very conservative here, I have found the vast majority to wear short sleeves and jeans. About half of the women don't even wear headscarves. People at ALIF even wear tank tops and knee-length skirts. Younger Moroccan women are very Westernized and find ways to show skin without getting in trouble with their conservative mothers. I have been wearing loose fitting pants and shirts, but men still stare and make comments. I believe people warned me about the dress because they were concerned about me sticking out or offending someone, but I am going to stick out no matter what I wear. I found this true when I had taken an hour walk home in the mid-afternoon heat and was super red in the face and my clothes were just hanging on me and a man still told me I looked like the Spice Girls. I wasn't sure whether I should punch him or thank him.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Im an American married to a Moroccan and have had the pleasure of traveling to morocco a few times. My husband explained to me the reason moroccan men stare. I am muslim and wear a hijab but I am still stared at because I have fair skin and I am American. American women, as well as European women are seen as exotic to moroccan men and regardless of how modest you dress, they will still stare. I have never been to Fez but would like to travel there on my next visit to morocco. My in-laws live in Tetoun so usually we stay in that area which is a bit more conservative.
    Hope your studies go well, it looks like you are having a great time and learning a lot!