My name is Kendall and I'm spending this semester in Rabat, Morocco studying Standard Arabic and North African migration. I live in the old medina in Rabat with a Moroccan family. I'm eating a lot of Moroccan food, practicing three foreign languages on a regular basis, and traveling around Morocco. My semester has been incredibly busy and also wonderfully rewarding so far, and it's only been a handful of weeks!
Morocco is an especially interesting place to live at this time because it gives me as close a view as is safely possible of the continued political unrest known as the Arab Spring. Being able to see for myself, not only the protests themselves, but the reaction of my Moroccan family and their coverage on both Moroccan state news and news stations based elsewhere in the Arab world is a priceless perspective. In addition, I'm able to see first-hand what it's like to live in a country and an area where it is not unusual for men to stay out late in cafés but women are expected to stay at home, religion is a public affair shared by nearly every citizen, privacy is a serious matter but personal space is a foreign concept, and not only is there a king, but he serves as both a spiritual and political leader. This semester will be no four month vacation. Morocco is many things but it is not a post-card perfect country. Rabat has beautiful architecture, but trash everywhere. The cafés are lovely and serve wonderful coffee and juice, but they are often inhabited solely by men. Moroccans have a deservedly famous reputation for hospitality, but street harassment I have experienced is constant, unending, frequently entertaining but often exhausting and sometimes downright insulting and invasive.
Morocco is wildly different from home and only three weeks is not enough to see even the tiniest fraction of it all or even begin to understand the complexities of the politics, culture, and people. I look forward to continuing the adventure.
If you'd like to contact me, I have intermittent access to my Olin email Kendall.firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be updating my personal blog fairly regularly at kendeliza.tumblr.com.