Due to all of us being tired, week 3 was off to a very slow start. On Monday, everyone was super tired at school but thankfully there was an information session for new students. This meant that we were allowed to sleep in the tent in the garden for another hour. At 9:30, Nancy, my language teacher, woke us up and we started right where we had left off the week before. After school, a big group of us headed to a local bakery where we saw signs that they had cheesecake. I ended up getting Oreo cheesecake which was really good. I was in the mood for a really long walk so Simone and I trekked almost an hour from our school to our apartments. I have really enjoyed getting to know my way around the city on foot plus it’s nice to be outside after being inside for several hours in class.
One of my favorite murals that I see on my way back home.
On Tuesday, we visited the zoo after school with some of our language partners. Earlier in the day, we learned the names of animals so it was really fun to apply what we learned in class to a real world situation. My favorite animal that I saw was the desert fox which is one of the cutest animals ever. When we visited the lions, there was a fight that had just broken out between two of the males. We left but when we came back, two lions were sharing an “intimate” moment together. After the zoo, a group of us went to Olivera, a gelato place, to grab a quick snack. This was the best gelato I’ve ever had. I got 3 flavors, raspberry, vanilla, and chocolate (my personal favorite was the chocolate but they were all incredibly good). The chocolate was the perfect combination of sweet and rich, it wasn’t like super sugary and the flavor wasn’t overwhelming but it was very deep. I bet once this trip is over, I’ll have a side job as a food critic.
Maybe the cutest animals ever?
The best gelato in the world!
For class on Wednesday, we worked on conjugating verbs which was very confusing but something that I just need to practice a lot. After lunch, we had our weekly NSLI-Y meeting and we talked about some of the most meaningful relationships we have established so far. I talked about the taxi driver who had 14 brothers and was really excited that we were learning Arabic. Other people talked about shop keepers, host siblings, and even teachers. It’s amazing to see how much our relationships with these people have grown in only 3 weeks. We also talked about the goals that we set at the beginning of the trip during the PDO in New York. I was glad that I was able to achieve my first goal which was to talk to my family about Islam and watch their practices for at least 10 minutes a day. My second goal was to learn about transportation in Rabat from my host family but we went over that in school so I changed it to trying to talk to every cab driver on the way back from school. After the meeting, we had our language partners where I was paired up with Mollie and Simone which made the experience a lot better. We went over all of the verbs that we learned in class. I forgot to mention that we are also working on a dance and a speech for the 23rd iEarn Conference and 20th Youth Summit in Marrakesh, Morocco. This conference will have people from all over the world talking about their experiences with iEarn. We decided to make a mashup of songs corresponding with the different types of dances that people in our group know. We also wanted to highlight the diversity of the United States so started out and ended with “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus and we cut to different dances in the middle of the song. We had Michael lead the Irish Step Dance, Paola lead a traditional Mexican dance, Seena lead a Persian dance and Meher closed it out with a Bhangra dance. Once our time with the language partners were finished, we then learned Michael’s and Paola’s dance and after about 45 minutes, we headed into Agdal to get some gelato. On the way to Agdal (about a 10 minute drive from our school) we saw two police scooters that were followed by a big black truck and another car behind that one (we later found out that the King of Morocco was in the black truck and was being driven through Rabat). Once we got to Agdal, Simone, Tiffany, Jane and I split off from the group getting gelato and decided to go to a local cafe which had AC because we were feeling the heat after the dance. The food was ok but it was a lot of fun to talk with each other. We ended up staying there for 2 hours before walking home together. We first walked Simone to her house and then we headed back to my house where we would get some supplies for our upcoming trip to Marrakesh. Once I got home, I ate dinner with my host family and I went over the stuff we learned in class with my older host brother.
Fun times at the cafe!
Thursday was a lot of fun. In the morning we had a calligraphy class and this was the first time that we were allowed to be really creative. I freehanded my name and I was able to turn Tiffany’s name into an arch which was really cool. For lunch, there were several NSLI-Y Alumni who were at our language school and we got to talk to them about their experiences and what they did or are planning on doing after their time at NSLI-Y. I got to sit with Noor who had done NSLI-Y Summer and Year programs in Morocco and she is currently working at our school for the summer. It was really cool to hear about her experiences with NSLI-Y and what she was able to do once she got back home. I also met Grace who will also be attending school in D.C. in the fall so we exchanged info so we can meet up at some point. After school, I went to McDonalds with most of the group which was something I’d been wanting to try for a long time. I got a Petit McArabia as well as a KitKat McFlurry. The McArabia was . . . interesting but I really liked the McFlurry. I then headed home and I got to talk for a long time with my host brothers about traveling, religion, all of that good stuff. Friday is our midterm so I spent a long time studying for that.
McDonalds in Morocco!
Friday was the big day. In the morning we reviewed for the test and after the tea break, we took the test. The test was very similar to the review so I wish I had studied that a bit more. I felt like I did good job on some parts of the test and then not so good on other parts. After the test, we had lunch, and then worked on the song that Youssef began teaching us last week. I was given the letter thaal and the word I had to sing was “thahab asfar” which means gold in Arabic. I could not memorize it for the life of me so every time the song came to my part, I would try and fake it but it never worked. I eventually wrote it down and then I was good from then on. After music, it was time for sports club where we would be playing soccer in a local field. When we got there, there were two other students in addition to the 14 in my group. My team ended up being Yuki and Meher (both of which play soccer), Tiffany, Seena, Diana, and Caspar who was from Chelsea in the United Kingdom. Despite the heat and the powerful song, we played for around 2 hours and it was a lot of fun. Youssef was also really good and he made me fall a few times. I ended up scoring a total of 3 goals and our team won with 10 goals compared to the other team’s 9. On the car ride home, we belted songs like “Titanium” and “Diamonds” and it was a really good time (despite our not so good singing). Once we got back to the language center, we met up with Youssef to go shopping for traditional Moroccan clothing. I ended up buying a long royal blue robe with light blue detailing for celebrations and as a souvenir.
I can’t believe that we are already halfway done with this trip. It is a really weird feeling because it has gone by so fast but it also feels like we have been here for a super long time. I have learned so much and I have had so many amazing experiences with people that I only met 3 weeks ago. We are so excited for these last 3 weeks but are also starting to feel song that we eventually have to leave this amazing country. I’m so excited for the conference this weekend in Marrakesh as well as our visit to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.