Cydney McFarland is a student at Arizona State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Cydney just returned home from studying abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco.
Somehow over the past four months I’ve become accustomed to some very odd aspects of daily life in Morocco that I never thought I would ever get used to. Here are the top three ‘only in Morocco‘ things you should be prepared for if you ever choose to live or visit Morocco.
1. Grand taxis
I never thought I’d get used to grand taxis. Weaving through the streets in an old Mercedes held together by seat belts and prayers was a terrifying morning tradition. We’d cram four people into the backseat and two people into the front passenger seat. It felt a bit like sardines in a can; We were packed in so tightly you’d have to lean into your fellow passengers just to get the door to shut. For a long time I would try to make sure I never sat next to the door out of fear that one day it would pop open, shooting me out on to the busy street. After four months I’ve grown accustomed to sitting on the laps of strangers while the driver speeds through traffic, occasionally pumping the brakes as cars cross the road in front of us. I no longer tense up when the driver weaves into oncoming traffic or cringe as we rocket through intersections, narrowly missing a truck full of cows. Though I will say I am excited to go home and drive my own car through orderly American traffic.
2. Insha’ Allah
Translated directly as “If God wills” is not just a phrase used in Arabic speaking countries. It is a lifestyle. While I knew life moved at a different pace in Morocco than it does in the States, I wasn’t prepared for the glacial movement of Morocco. While they drive fast everything else is done on an Insha’ Allah basis. Is the guy going to come fix the hot water? Insha’ Allah… meaning “maybe, maybe not.” Are we meeting at 6? Insha’ Allah… meaning, “yeah, if I don’t forget.” Basically you never know when, or if, anything is going to happen and if it does happen it’ll probably be late. Unfortunately I have adopted this new lifestyle and while it allows for much more flexibility and less stress I’m sure it will not be appreciated by my friends, family and teachers when I get back to the States.
3. Sugar Overload
There is sugar on almost everything. I even had a dish called bastilla that is literally chicken in dough, topped with brown and powdered sugar. They put sugar in the fruit juice, on sliced fruit, they boil it into the tea and plop at least two cubes into tiny cups of coffee. I have a sweet tooth, but even I have my limits. However, here I am writing this blog post, pouring sugar into my iced coffee because it just doesn’t taste right without it. I’m sure my dentist will be overjoyed to see me when I get home.