On the train ride back from a weekend trip to Fez, I sighed a little bit to myself about going back to “real life” of school and homework. I then realized, as I have over and over again this first week, what a dream everyday life in Meknes, Morocco is! A school day here includes long Arabic classes and a lot of homework, but even a typical day differs so much from life in Mississippi.
My roommate (and fellow blogger) Ella and I start the day with breakfast just before leaving for class. I put on the slippers that my host mom is loaning me and then tiptoe into the kitchen. During the month of Ramadan, most people here are fasting during the day and staying up late at night, so I eat breakfast quietly so as not to wake my host parents. Not only is the food delicious, it’s a real treat compared to the granola bar I eat for breakfast in Oxford.
In addition to the interesting breakfast foods my host mom leaves out for us–like cake or pita with cheese or a baguette with apricot jelly–the 30-minute walk to school is another reminder of the different world I’m living in. Signs along the road are in a mixture of Arabic and French, and we cross the middle of the busy streets despite the little turquoise taxis that fly down the road. Even more dangerous than taxis or buses are people on and motorcycles, believe it or not.
Between classes is our break where mint tea is served, and then I work on homework until the breaking of the fast around 7:30. Afterwards I might go to the square to walk around and drink mint tea at a café with friends, or drink mint tea and chat with my host family, or have a night in with Ella and my homework to keep me company.
When again will a typical school week include leisurely trips to a market? or late nights drinking coffee and tea on a terrace? or late nights drinking coffee for any reason other than staying awake to work on an assignment? During the past week, I’ve pinched myself countless times and said, “Is this real life?! Am I in Morocco right now?!” No matter how many hours of homework I have ahead of me, it’s hard to complain too much about going back to this new “real life” for the next seven weeks.