Friday, July 8, 2011

"Culture is what remains when everything else is lost"

          I don't think I have mentioned this in my blog, but Colby and I decided to switch host families. We weren't getting anything out of our homestay, so we decided to find a new family. Our new family has two sons who are 16 and 20, but the 20 year old is studying in Agadir so the 16 year old, Driss, gets to play the role of the big brother. When we asked about his family, he said that he had one brother and then pointed to us and said that he had two sisters. Needless to say, Colby and I adore him. Driss's cousins spend the summers in Fes, so last night we left the house around 10 to go out to dinner. It was Colby, me, Driss, and his three cousins.
My roommate Colby and me
          We piled into the oldest one's car and found a pizza place. None of his cousins spoke English so we spoke a mixture of French and Arabic and English. I was really interested in how teenagers hang out here. There are obvious differences such as the separation of genders here, but the money factor plays a role, too. I soon found out that they really didn't do anything that much different from Americans. The oldest loved to drive and thought he was a racecar driver- not unusual for a 21 year old. They joked around, listened to rap, and acted just like any American teenage boy would act. We ended up spending the night at their uncle's apartment and after Colby fell asleep, I went up onto the roof with the guys to play cards and attempt to communicate with them. I have really missed just being with a group of people because here, especially being a girl, it is difficult to hang out in groups larger than a few people.
          I am happy to have seen how Driss and his cousins kick back because so many people have an Orientalist view of anything Middle Eastern and disregard the fact that teenagers will act like teenagers wherever they are. Even though language was a barrier to work around and we came from opposite sides of the world, we still understood each other crystal clear. There is a saying that goes "culture is what remains when everything else is lost" and I believe this to be completely true. Language, economics, and politics were foreign concepts to us that night and what remained was the fact that we were teenagers and liked to just hang out.


  1. Hello, Louisa! I just found out about your blog while reading Susie's post! You are so lucky to be able to travel and meet new people and get to know other cultures and live unexpected things... I love the way you write and am anxiously looking forward to reading your next posts! Needless to say I have already read everything you posted till now!

    I am from Romania and have been learning Arabic since 2005! It's the most beautiful and amazing language in the world for me! I am still not fluent because I don't have the chance to actually TALK it! I know how to talk in written, but I lack the oral exercise and this is the worst thing that could happen when learning a language! So, make the most of it and try talking in Arabic no matter what!

    Btw, what are you learning, fus7a - the standard Arabic or the Moroccan dialect? Or both?

    And your trip to Sahara - amazing - I am deeply in love with the desert... the pictures are breathtaking, not to mention that I have always wanted to ride a camel, though I know they are not the most comfortable animals to ride! :D

    I hope you are having a nice evening now - it's 7:48 pm in Romania!


  2. Hi Anda,
    I'm glad you're enjoying my blog! I honestly didn't expect anyone to read it besides my friends and family, but the more the merrier!

    I am learning Fusha in class but since I am staying with a Moroccan family here, I am also learning phrases in Darija, the Moroccan dialect. It's too bad that you don't have any chance of practicing your spoken Arabic in Romania. Let me know if you want any recommendations!


  3. Hello Louisa,
    Thank you for your reply! Well, I only read interesting, well-written blogs... ;)

    They usually teach Fus7a in class, though it would be great if dialect lessons were included, too cause it's the most important in my opinion. Fus7a is of course the best way to start, but believe me, if you want to have a deeper look into the culture and actually feel the language, then the next best thing to do would be to start learning a dialect that interests you. I, for example, am interested in the Levantine dialect.

    I hope you pick up as much Darija as possible! :D