Settling into the Melting Pot of RabatRabat, Spring 2012

Three weeks ago to the day, I first landed in the beautiful city of Rabat, meandered into the amazing sensory-overload that is the Medina, and while overcome with the smells, colors, cat calls (and cats), I  promptly got lost. It’s hard to believe that today, this incredible, winding maze is now my home. After two weeks in the historic city of Fes, orientation is officially over and we’ve just wrapped up our first week of settling into Rabat. While admittedly the first word that still comes to mind for Fez is COLD, looking back now, I’m truly grateful for the entire experience and the wonderful hospitality offered to us by our families and teachers.  My life consisted mostly of four hours of Darija every morning (which I cursed at 9 AM but appreciate now), getting to know my hilarious and loving host family and becoming familiar with the Fes Medina – camel heads and all. Though Fes was a far more traditional city than the capital of Rabat, we found ourselves adjusting fast enough and even finding activities like a rock/indie concert at the French Institute (La Grande Sophie is amazing… seriously take a listen to her music), hiking in the mountains and a massive soccer match between IES, a bunch of Ex-Pats from local Café Clock + our Moroccan families and friends. Though our time is over, I have come out of it with amazing memories, an undying appreciation for hot showers, new friends and the mental readiness to jump into the daily life of Rabat. Life in Rabat is almost a 180 from life in Fes. Though there are numerous similarities, it is obvious that Rabat has a much more European/Westernized influence. Streets are wider, buildings outside of the medina look more like we could be in Spain and verbal harassment in the streets is less (but not much less grumblegrumble…). Overall, Rabat truly encompasses the exact reason I chose Morocco has my study abroad country. Just a 5 minute walk down the street and you’re surrounded by Spanish, French, Arabic, Darija and Tamazight languages and with Morocco being a crossroads for African, Arab and European culture, sometimes you have to stop and wonder where on earth you really are. My host family here are the kindest people, the food is delicious and the homework is… well homework (Can I echo everyone else’s sentiment that I forgot about the ‘study’ part in study abroad??). Thankfully, daily life is finally starting to feel normal and like I’m actually living here, excluding of course the daily rollercoaster of rewards and challenges that is study abroad in Northern Africa. With a routine finally starting to appear, I hope to update more often and seeing as I’m off on a train to Marrakech tomorrow morning, I’m sure I will have plenty of stories to tell! Enjoy pictures below of my most recent adventures and... Bye for now/Bslâma/Au Revoir/Adios/ مع السلامة [gallery link="file" orderby="ID"]
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