So, I recently got back from Morocco, and
needless to say, it was an amazing trip. I chose to go to Morocco partly because there
was a scholarship involved but also because I knew it was something totally different
and a place in the world I’d never been, and really I don’t think a lot of Americans go
out to, as in like north Africa and the Middle East. Arriving there you could definitely tell that
all of a sudden you were in a new place. It was more historic looking and definitely
antiquated. The signs are different of course, it’s all
in Arabic or French. A lot of people warned me about the gender
role difference in Morocco and it is there opposed to the United States. It’s not as bad though as people made it out
to be. But what I’ve noticed from that, when I was
there, is that, women and men are often separated, and then they form a really strong bond, in
a way between other women and other men. So just like for us, being women in the group,
we would spend a lot of time with the women especially at the hammam spa. We’re just together and everybody talks and
laughs and everyone supports each other, and I think that’s really different than in the
U.S. We also went to the women’s house and got
the henna done, and everyone was talking. And the people were taking care of the kids and
cooking and things, and it was a really good experience. Morocco, also, because it’s a Muslim country,
is definitely different than the United States because we are more Christian. So all that really means is just the clothing
is different. I think Muslim people – men too, not just the women – believe in modesty, and the people cover up. The women have different levels of coverage. Covering up fully, or covering their hair
or not, that’s different as well. But what also happens then with Islam is the
prayer five times a day. There is a call to prayer, and so there are
mosques all around and then from the mosque there is a call, actual someone calling saying
“God is good, God is great,” something like that. It’s really not very loud, the call, but you
can hear it all around the city and it’s something different because that doesn’t happen in the
United States, so all of a sudden you just hear this voice saying something and you don’t
know what it says because it’s in Arabic. I, myself, actually tried to cover my hair, well I did, that was something that really stuck out to me. An experience that I had
in the country. So I did cover my hair, two times or so. And what I noticed is that as soon as I did,
people treated me differently definitely. All of a sudden I wasn’t a tourist, and treated
like a local. So when people would speak to me, they didn’t
speak to me in English or French, they then spoke to me in Arabic, right away, because
you really couldn’t tell what I was, I didn’t show my blonde hair, which is what kind of
what made me look non-Moroccan. Also, the mom I was staying with, when I had
put it on, she just thought I was so beautiful, the daughters thought I was so beautiful and
that I should keep that on, and I thought that was interesting. I feel like in the United States, it would
be the total opposite. If a girl was normally covering her hair,
and all of a sudden uncovered, I think a lot of people would tell her that she should keep
it uncovered, “that’s so pretty, wow.” And that shows something about the beauty
standards between maybe Muslim and Christian countries or maybe just the United States
and Morocco. Something about the Moroccan people, is that
they are very welcoming. So I mean, obviously I stayed with a family,
at their home. I had gotten sick in the country, while I
was there, and the mom of the family made sure that I was taken care of and that she
made me all my food, all my tea, anything I needed. She had prepared my bed for me and done anything
that I needed to make sure that I was OK. The biggest challenge I ever faced, one time
I had to take the cab, and the cab drivers usually don’t know anything besides French or Arabic, so there’s no chance to speak English or Spanish to them. And I wanted to tell him to go to one street,
I didn’t understand why he wasn’t – I later learned it was one street so we had to go around, so I just did not know how to communicate. Luckily there was a lady who spoke some Spanish
so I was able to talk to her so she could talk to him. And so it was so difficult. And I think it was a great experience despite
the fact that it was so hard, because I saw you know, how is it if someone goes to a country
and doesn’t speak anything. First, that if you go somewhere, you should
definitely learn the language as much as you can, or at least have a phrase book or memorize
good phrases. Also, if someone comes to the United States
and doesn’t know English or Spanish, because those are the two big languages here, then
it would be very hard to get by if they didn’t have anyone with them at all times to translate. So, it’s important for us as Americans to
learn other languages or be able to understand others and accommodate them in any way we
can, so I learned that.