After 2 1/2 days of traveling, I arrived in Morocco on Tuesday morning. I haven’t experienced culture shock (I’ve only been here two days), but I have been able to spot some things that differ from what I’m used to. Such as…
French is very common
I thought I would be hearing more Arabic but I guess not. I was really surprised when I arrived in Casablanca and everything seemed to be conducted in French. One person I met was so prepared to speak Arabic that they were completely blown away when they realized everything was in French or a combination of Arabic and French.
Spanish is my first language so all the French has actually been a bit helpful in finding my way around. Yay for Romance languages! It also helps that I spent a day in Montreal before arriving here. It gave me time to adapt.
Moroccans love their country
When around foreigners, most Americans think its cool to speak negatively about their home country.
Since arriving I’ve had several people wish people me a happy trip. And several others have recommended places to visit and food to eat. There may be some things happening in Morocco that they dislike, but it doesn’t seem like they would ever insult or talk down on the country as a whole.
Also, an elderly Moroccan man was wondering why I was staying a semester and not a year. He was concerned that I wouldn’t have enough time to truly appreciate Morocco. After all the cool things that I’ve been told I’m a bit worried myself now!
Chirping? Squeaking? I don’t know…
Ever since I got on the plane to Morocco, I noticed that a lot of small Moroccan children (about 7 months to 18 months) make these high pitch chirps when they’re excited. And they like to run around as they make these noises. I know a lot of children make noises when they’re excited but this is a very distinct chirp-like sound. Like a baby bird. It’s really cute and a nice difference when compared to American children who are expected not to make a ruckus in public.
I’ll admit it though…the chirping wasn’t so cute at the airport or inside the airplane during the 7 hour flight. The Moroccan mothers seemed oblivious to the irritated non-Moroccans annoyed by the chirping.
Moroccans won’t hesitate to cut in front of you when in line. But they will never hesitate to help if it looks like you’re having a hard time.
Some fellow Americans and I traveled together from Casablanca to Fes. Which is about a 5 hour train ride with one transfer. We STRUGGLED.
But people were very understanding and even asked if we needed help. Some people didn’t even ask. They just grabbed a handle. Lifted it. And walked off. One of the train station workers even gave us a head start so we wouldn’t get left behind during the whole madness of being people trying to get in at once.
It just felt strange being treated so kindly in such large cities. And I could tell it wasn’t because we were slowing down the line. Yes, I can spot the difference.
Moroccans seem to tolerate rude foreigners in public more than Mexicans
Unlike in the U.S., most Moroccans are multilingual. Usually, Arabic, French, and English speaking. At least from what I’ve encountered. Either way, they understand more than what American tourists believe.
On the train ride to Fes there was an American group that was very loud. I could hear them complaining about the quality of the first class compartments, how expensive some things are in Morocco when compared to Wal-Mart, and they bragged about the economic strength of the dollar.
You do NOT want to have those type of conversations in Mexico. If you did, someone would eventually say to you , “Vete a la fregada” or “If it’s so bad then go home, Gringo.”
To make things worse, my Australian companion looked around our compartment and mouthed “Americans” with disgust. It wasn’t aimed at me but…it was an ouch moment.
I just find it astonishing that Moroccans just let it slide. Or maybe I’m taking it too personally because my relatives in Mexico are vendors and grocers? I don’t know. I think it should be expected that some things are a bit more expensive in Morocco than in the U.S. If you don’t want to pay the high price don’t buy it.
Thus far things have been a learning experiencing. I can’t wait to learn more! I’m also hoping to update this post with pictures later. The first day was beyond hard to take pictures. A big suitcase and trains to catch. But more to come!