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O Fim duma Viagem

Just Another Day

MOROCCO | Friday, 13 June 2014 | Views [350]

We arrived at the center on Wednesday a little nervous about what to expect. Everyone who was taking the politics class was nervous about not having quite finished the reading, or maybe finished but not read it as thoroughly and with as much focus as we could have, or maybe finished and read as hard as he could have, and written a summary, but not quite sure if he'd done the summary right, or how exactly he was supposed to present. Cynthia, the one person who was not taking the political science class, laughed at us.

The literature class went well. For the most part, the professor liked talking and talking and talking. Fortunately, literature is one of the subjects I love, so I was able to keep focus for the entire class, and even respond to the one or two questions he asked. The text had been rather interesting, and I left with a better appreciation of it then I'd had just reading by myself, which was really all I could ask from a literature class.

Lunch was a very friend chicken (?) roll thing, green beans, bread, an overripe banana, pistachio yogurt, and a (by this point rather smushed) cake from tea the day before. I tried to offer the cake to other people, because most lunches didn't include dessert and it wasn't too sweet, and I didn't want to convey the impression I didn't like it, I was just full. Unfortunately, everyone else was as full as I was.

The staple with most meals

After lunch was done, we discussed classes a bit. Someone mentioned that she'd been talking with a girl from the spring semester (her host family's previous student, who had been exploring Morocco and came back to spend the day with them. Abir had been skyping with the student that she'd hand last semester, so clearly the ties are still there) and she'd said in a class of around 20, everyone had passed. Which was encouraging.

Feeling a little more positive about our odds of success in the class, we went in.

Nathan handed out his one-paged typed summary of the text we read. Essentially, “Two rulers fought. One won. Then he died, and his sons fought to see who would get control. The one that won went on to conquer new areas.” Again and again and again. At the professor's request, he read it out loud. I'm not sure if that's what the professor had been expecting him to do, but he said “That was a great job. Wonderful work,” so I guess it was fine. Glad I have another full week and then some of other people's examples to learn from.

Then the teacher took over to give an explanation about the book and author that the text we'd just read had come from. Which made a lot of sense, since understanding why the author was writing helps to unravel the biases and motives behind a text, but it's not something I was in the habit of doing. In this case, the author was Algerian, and he was writing about pre-colonial North Africa, because most European writers liked believing North Africa didn't have any notable history until colonization. I made a note to include a description of the author and text when I got around to presenting my reading.

He went around asking people if they had any questions or comments. A lot of people said nothing, and you could tell that he was getting disappointed by that, so by the time it got to me (I was the last person. In about an hour, our Arabic instructor would explain that people always started from the right in Morocco, so my position immediately to the left of the professor meant I was always last) I ventured a comment about how the text had seemed very historical and factual, and not political. He talked about that for a while, then moved on to a closer examination of the text.

Five minutes before 3, he gave us a break and left. He came back with lunch, and for the rest of the class would eat it while students were asking or answering questions.

After that class was finished we got Arabic. In the middle of it, Nistrine and the program director came in to talk to us about vaccinations. In order to go to Senegal, people needed up-to-date Yellow Fever and Meningitis vaccinations, and also medication for malaria. Having gotten all of these back in the United States (the vaccinations, not the diseases themselves, though I suppose that would have worked too) Erika and I got permission to sleep late on Friday. Everyone else needed to get up early so they could be ready to leave to Casablanca by 7.

Arabic went slightly better than the day before. The extra time to process the fact that yes went no and pronunciation was bizarre meant I was able to approach the grammar with less fear. And, for the most part, it does make sense. It has gender (requisite comment about how Japanese doesn't) but it's mostly what one might expect. Nouns that end with an “a” are feminine, as are some others. (I don't think I could learn a language where nouns than end with an “a” are masculine. The thought alone terrifies me.)

Our Arabic instructor asked us what we did after school. “Please tell me you don't just get home.”

Well... yes. We'd only been in classes one day, besides which our host families had walked us home. So we did go straight home. But they weren't coming to pick us up today, so the time was our own.

It was our own, but it had also been a long day and we kind of just wanted to return and drop off our stuff and not do much else. So Erika and I set off alone to go back to our houses. There were some slight concerns about direction, but nothing too major, and it was nice to be able to cross when we'd determined it was safe, not when my host father had.

We made it past the Egyptian embassy, around the corner with all of the flags (none of them Egyptian) past a few plaques, and across the tram lines. Then I realized that we had just passed my host father. So we recrossed the tram lines to tell him “salam aleykum.” And he turned around, took my bag for lunch, and started walking us back.

I'm not sure why he came to pick us up, but my Arabic was limited to “My name is Sabrina. Where are you from? Groovy!” and his French seemed to be limited to single words. Besides which, I didn't have a key to my house. So I let him lead us the rest of the way home.

Dinner was eggs (an omelet without anything in it) and soup. The soup was rather bland (I think it had couscous and some kind of meat) and was not eaten with bread. The eggs were supposed to be eaten with eggs. I have yet to understand how to eat, and I also have yet to be served another artichoke. I await both days eagerly.

Tags: exploring, food, school

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