Discovering Cultural Differences

Our tour guide and a local woman in Chefchaoen – where all the doors, windows, and corners are painted blue!

One of the great things about studying abroad in Spain is that it opens the door for travel! While I enjoy my day to day time exploring Salamanca, I have had the opportunity to get this side of the world a little better, too. Recently, I took a weekend trip to The Kingdom of Morocco – a beautiful country in the north of Africa! I have never been to Africa so this was definitely an exciting experience. My American friends and I discovered the cities of  Tetuan, Tangier, and Chefchaoen together.

It was really windy!

I was pleasantly surprised at the differences between my Hispanic American culture and the cultural characteristics I witnessed in Morocco. For starters, they speak a completely different language!! Now, I’ve been able to get by in Spain with the little Spanish I learned in school and the phrases I hear in San Antonio. However, I do not know a thing about Moroccan Arabic – the common language in the country. Do you?

A hotel with the name written in Arabic!

Luckily for me, most of the people I interacted with spoke English and/or Spanish. The more I travel, the more I realize how beautiful language can be. It allows you to communicate verbally and express your ideas to others. Although, I still know nothing about Arabic, being in Morocco gave me motivation to really practice my Spanish while I’m studying here in Spain. Do you know any other languages? How have they helped you communicate with others?

The most delicious difference was – of course- the food! Moroccan food is flavored with lots of spices and is traditionally eaten with your hands! Can you imagine eating an entire meal with your right hand? We enjoyed feasting on couscous: a popular Moroccan dish.

The mint green tea in Morocco was my favorite drink!

My favorite treat, though, was the green tea with mint in it! It is a common drink that is very refreshing. Drinking tea reminded me of the sweet, iced tea I drink when I’m at home. What are some of your favorite food or drink items you have at home?

I think my trip to Morocco has been the most memorable so far. The flavorful food, stunning architecture, and culture are unlike anything I have ever experienced before!

This is the view from on top of a camel!

Being in a completely foreign environment helped me appreciate my very little – but very helpful – ability to communicate with others in Spain. The more I travel I how other cultures live and how every single culture, despite the differences, hold beauty in them. Tell me, what is your culture like?

Sunset on the African coast near Tangier

Victoria Gonzalez
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Salamanca, Spain
Spring 2012

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