“My Moroccan Experience” – Summer 2013, Intensive Arabic in Rabat

Below is a photo essay submitted by summer 2013 Intensive Arabic in Rabat, Morocco participant Rockia Coulibaly. A student of International Relations and Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College, Rockia reflects on some of her favorite experiences in Rabat this summer.

On one of my very last days in Morocco, my host family thought it would be a great idea for my roommate and me to try on some of the traditional Moroccan clothing. We tried on both takchitas and caftons. The one I am wearing in this photo is called a takchita, and these dresses are normally worn during weddings and baby showers. The takchita in this photo was actually the takchita that my host sister wore for her wedding. The takchita comes with a belt or mdamma as said in the Moroccan dialect, Darija. The dress is also worn with beautiful jewelry which matches the color and style of the dress. In addition, women also get henna done on their hands and feet for these special occasions.

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When first arriving to Morocco, I was engaged in a lot of conversations with many different people. One of the first questions that I always asked was “what are some of the traditions here in Morocco?” Many people were excited to tell me about couscous for lunch on Fridays! This picture illustrates the first Friday that I had couscous with my host family. The couscous is normally served in a very large dish, and each person is given a bowl of the broth in case the area of which they’re eating becomes dry. The couscous is not accompanied by the Mint tea, as most meals would be. Instead, one drinks a kind of thick milk, similar to sour cream. Although my roommate and I would end classes at 3pm, our host family would always wait in order for us all to enjoy the couscous together, which made it even more special.

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The Medina is the place where many people go to in search of a wide array of Moroccan goods. During the many times that I visited the Old Medina of Rabat, I noticed that different areas were designated for the distribution of a particular kind of product. An example of this was the area shown in this photo which would be the place one would visit if they were in search of leather goods and carpets. When looking for gifts to bring back for my family and friends, I thought the Medina was the best place since many of the products sold there really exhibited the Moroccan style and taste. Furthermore, I really appreciated the Medina overall because although I was in Rabat which resembled many places here in America, I was able to gain insight on the more traditional Moroccan architecture and design.

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