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Midterms and Commercials

MOROCCO | Sunday, 6 July 2014 | Views [374]

 At the beginning of lit class, our professor handed out the sheet that had the questions for our midterm. There were four of them, each of which should be answered in “a small paragraph,” and each of them essentially asked “do you pay any attention to me? Ever? Great! Have an A.” So that looked easy enough. 

The same could not be said of the poli sci midterm. Right when lit class ended, he uploaded the three questions. Two of them were questions that told you exactly what pages of the reading to look at, the third asked “in your opinion,” what you thought would happen in the future.

I looked at the questions, then ate lunch before starting the paper. During lunch, there was a general survey of which question each person was planning on answering. I think most people went for the opinion question. I went for the first, and complained about the second. “It's a 3-5 page pager, but the reading he gave us to reference was only 2 pages. How does he expect us to make a 3-5 page paper out of 2 pages of material?"

“Haven't you ever written a poli sci paper before?” Erika asked.

“Actually, I haven't.”

“Oh. They're a lot like that.”

Our professor came by a bit later to tell us he'd put up the questions, and we could start whenever. Once we were done, we should e-mail him and give a copy to Nisrine. He was leaving, so we didn't need to meet in the classroom. I finished my lunch and went to the library.

It was at that moment that my inexperience with writing poli sci papers really sunk in. (Actually, it didn't sink in until I finished the chapter of the book I was reading, realized that I wasn't able to load webpages, went downstairs to open the reading, came back up, opened a new document, fixed the paper size, spacing, and heading, and reread the prompt. Minor details.)

I stumbled my way through it. When I needed a break, I would walk around, look at books, find a wireless router, turn it off and on, recheck my internet connection, sigh, look at more books, and then get back to work.

Fatima came in to lock the room, but when she saw that I was still there she handed me the key and told me to give it to Nisrine when I was done.

Finally, (around 3:30, the time class normally ended) I finsiehd. I just needed to go downstairs to print. So I gathered my stuff, turned off the air conditioning (like I'd been told to) and was attempting to lock the door when Erika showed up. “Is it locked?

“Not yet.”

“Good. I need to print my paper.” She had it on a USB drive, and was hoping to connect it to the computer in the room and print from there. But the computer did not appea to have an on/off switch. We could turn on the monitor and watch it complain about no signal, but we could not turn the computer itself on.

Since my computer had already proven itself capable of printing papers (the Dakar write-up the day before) I offered to print Erika's. While I was e-mailing my paper, Natasha walked by and asked how to print. I told her, but her computer stalled, so I offered to print hers too. I feel like my computer should get a special bonus for printing 3 of the 5 poli sci midterms.

And then it was over, and we went to Arabic. (Mahjid: “You'd think you were the ones fasting and I was the one eating. Get more energy! Wake up!”) And then that was over, and we could finally go home, done with the week. (Except Natasha and Cynthia, who still had sociology the 4th of July. However, Cynthia hadn't had poli sci, so I think she actually won this week.)

My host mother has taken to asking me what I learned in school today. It's been a while since I've had a parent ask that on a daily basis. She really only asks about the Arabic class, which is good, because I have no idea how I'd say “we learned about the use of figurative language by an imprisoned poet” in Arabic. However, I can say “a little bit” and talk about what I learned in class. (The easiest day was when I just needed to count to 10.) I feel like it's not as much as she would like, but that's hardly my fault.

We didn't have any soup on Thrusday which was surprising after Nisrine's comment. Instead we had a tomato, onion, and cucumber salad with a beef and carrot main course. The main dish was served on separate plates, which was surprising because before Ramadan it had just been a central tajine. I'm not sure if that's a Ramadan-specific change or just a coincidence.

During dinner (as with other meals) the television was playing. But there appears to be Ramadan-specific programming, since I and the other students all noticed a change in the channel. (Megan: “I miss the Turkish soap opera!”) Occasionally there will be a comedy show playing, and occasionally there will be what seems to be a Moroccan version of what I imagine You've Been Punk'd was. The majority of the time, the only thing playing is commercials.

To understand Morocco, you need to understand its influences. So you have the Spanish influence on food, certain buildings, and sofa cleaning, the Jewish influence on food, certain buildings, and advisors to former kings, the French and Arab influences on pretty much everything, and the Indian influence on commercials. Several of them they've come straight from Bollywood.

There's one (for either an apartment or furniture store) which shows a pop star singing to convince his girlfriend of something. It begins mildly, with them walking in the street, and then people wheeling in sofas and doors and her looking mildly impressed, at least for a bit. Then the girl goes away, and it's just the guy singing, and starting to dance. Then we pan out, and there are over a dozen doors (attached to nothing) through which people walk out and start doing dancing-jumping motions. That one plays a lot.

The real Bollywood one, though, features like 20 people in saris. I have no idea what they're advertising, and would not be surprised if it was originally an Indian commerical and they just dubbed it over in Darija. (I've recognized two or three words, so I'm pretty sure it is in Darija.) I don't know what more to say about it apart from the fact that both of the people singing in it (there's a man and a woman) have nice voices, and the saris are pretty.

There's a commercial for one of the brands of bottled water that begins with a giant robot and a boy next to him, tapping his foot. Then the robot starts tapping his foot. They go into crazy breakdance motions, and then the boy ends by taking a sip of the water, throwing it to the robot, who scans it and kneels down.

However, I think my favorite commercial is for a different brand of water. This one features no dancing, but instead a live lion and the man playing with him. Including at one point where he gives bottled water to the lion. Which is a complete waste of bottled water, but an awesome couple of seconds of video.

I don't remember what either of those brands of water are, so even if I chose water by brand instead of by location that sold it it wouldn't make a difference. But I like watching the commercials more than the programs, since the commercials have more budget to be visually astounding than the programs do. And they're shorter, which is a plus the times I do try and see what I can understand.

Besides, it's really hard to compete with a lion.

Tags: commercials, food, lion, midterm, school, water

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