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.