Katherine Seaton, a senior at American University, is studying with AMIDEAST in Rabat, Morocco for her fall 2011 semester. In this post, she recounts her relaxing weekend prior to the start of classes as well as some cultural differences she has noticed. This was originally published on her blog on September 12, 2011.
This past weekend I went to the beach on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we met up with our group and went to a beach about 30 minutes outside of Rabat. Getting there was quite the experience because we all took our first bus ride. The bus is a completely different experience here than it is anywhere else in the United States. First of all, there are no schedules. You just wait for the right bus and hope it will come soon. When the right bus showed up we all shuffled to the back door and got on. In Morocco people enter through the back door and exit through the front door. Once we got on the bus a man walked down the aisle and took our money (3,60 MAD = 50 cents) and gave us a small green ticket. There are no designated bus stops so the bus would stop whenever someone flagged it down. When I say “stopped” I mean the bus slowed down and opened its doors so that the person running alongside the street could hop on.
We arrived at the beach and spent about two hours there swimming and talking. The waves were enormous and the water was the perfect temperature. After about two hours we all tried to take the bus back and to our surprise, succeeded. My roommate and I got on the tram after the bus and got home around 7 pm just in time for dinner. Our host mom, Sana had kefta waiting for us which is spicy ground-up meat in a tomato sauce.
The next morning we ate breakfast with our family and then they took us to the beach. We spent about 5 hours under the sun at two different beaches. The waves at the first beach were so large that we eventually left because it was proving very difficult to swim. The second beach was much calmer and Caitlin and I were able to walk around a little bit and take pictures. We left the beach exhausted from so much sun and went home to nap and eat dinner. It was a very calm weekend and a good way to start our first week of classes. I also got to talk to my parents last night which was great! Although I’ve only been here a week I am a little bit homesick. I think it is because of the immense cultural differences here that I am not used to yet.
I am writing this right after taking my first two language classes here: Arabic and Darija. Both will be quite the challenge and we will all be drowning in work in a few days. Tomorrow I start the three humanities classes I am taking and I will let you know how they go!