Annie Cutler is a student at Kansas State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Annie is currently studying abroad in Meknes, Morocco on the ISA Summer 2 program.
As I’m sure you can assume, studying abroad is a roller coaster of emotions. You are excited, nervous, happy, and most of the time, overwhelmed. It is easy to see why people get homesick from time to time.
Having been in Morocco for six weeks, I’ve gotten over most feelings of homesickness; I’ve figured out when I have time to Skype friends and family back home, I have a schedule I enjoy here, and I’m comfortable in my surroundings. However, I would be lying if I said there weren’t a few things I miss dearly about the good ole USA.
Moroccans, like many nationalities, love their French fries. Golden-brown and fried in the traditional olive oil, they accompany nearly any meal you can buy here. They are served with ketchup and mayonnaise to dip them in. Although tasty, there is one thing wrong with this culinary treat: the ketchup, although deceivingly similar to our traditional Heinz or Hunt’s back home, is sweetened. Therefore, you are eating your fries not with the traditional tart, tomato-ey sauce, but with an almost sickeningly sweet jelly.
It’s an acquired taste; most of us eat and enjoy it. For those of us that don’t, or for when we just need the American flavor, there’s always a solution: McDonald’s, which serves normal ketchup, is only a five-minute walk away.
Because of the Moroccan heat, flip-flops or sandals are the most comfortable footwear option; they give your feet room to breathe and when your feet swell from the heat (a very weird sensation, let me tell you), sandals are more comfortable as tennis shoes or boots.
The problem with flip-flops however, is that they expose your feet to the dusty, dirty Moroccan streets. I am continuously convinced that my feet are least three shades more tan than they actually are because my feet are constantly covered in the dirt and grime. One of the girls who just recently arrived for Summer 2 cutely told us that back home she gets a pedicure every two weeks; for those of us that have been here since May, the thought was hilarious.
Back home, the rules of the road are straightforward. You drive on the right side, at a designated speed, and signs or lines are there to guide things such as turning and stopping.
I’ve been here six weeks now, and I’m still not always sure that Morocco has any sort of traffic laws. Roads that are built to fit two lanes of vehicles suddenly have three and a half lanes. In roundabouts, the cars entering the roundabout have the right-of-way, not the ones already in it. As a result, you can sometimes get stuck waiting in the middle of the roundabout, as other cars file in.
As far as pedestrians go, you spend a fair amount of time playing “Frogger.” To cross the street, you do not use a crosswalk or wait for the light; you simply wander out into traffic, dodging cars as you go and staring down those who aren’t considerate enough to weave around you.
Although exciting, I can’t say I will be too sad (although I will certainly be very surprised) to arrive back home to drivers who drive on the correct side of the road, yield to other traffic, and who actually stop at traffic lights.
So yes, there are things I miss about home, especially as friends and families tell tales and post pictures of Fourth of July celebrations. However, if the cleanliness of my feet or the condiments for my fries are my worst homesickness triggers? Life could be much, much worse.
Until next time!
Great blog, Annie! I loved the descriptors! I was talking to my friend from India the other day, and she is learning to drive in Texas after having grown up driving in India – she actually says figuring out the lanes here are the hardest part!