As is perhaps expected when you travel to a new country, I am sick. I came down with a fever yesterday afternoon and have felt pretty rotten ever since. Even with going to bed at 9 last night, I struggled all day to keep my eyes open, which was a bit embarrassing when the dean of the university came to speak to us and my eyes kept involuntarily closing.
Even though I explained to my host family that I’m not feeling well because I am in a new environment with new food, water, etc., they are convinced I have a fever because it is too sunny for me here… While yes, I am as white as they get, I will hedge my bets that that isn’t the case. Regardless, they are being very caring and nurturing and are trying their best to make me feel better. Since I’ve barely eaten yesterday and today, they asked what I want to eat so I told them rice and chicken would be best. In true fashion, Kaoutar came out with a tray filled with rice, meat, french fries, a peach, and a disk of bread. I ate about 4 bites before feeling nauseas. Again, this is just par for the course when you enter a new environment, plus I came prepared with enough types of medications I could fight off the plague.
Other adjustments that I need to make: Nothing will ever be completely quiet, dark, or smelling rosy at night. Moroccans apparently go to bed late, especially when they are on vacation, and since I live in a house with several family members including two little boys, all of whom don’t seem to go to bed until about 1 AM, things can get loud at night. I am a zombie if I don’t get something like 10 hours of sleep a night so I’m going to bed a lot earlier than everyone else, but that doesn’t mean the apartment gets quiet (like at all.) Abdullah, the youngest of the boys, has taken to banging on my door at night, for example. Plus, the apartment building is in an alley off a main street which echoes a lot and there are people talking, playing music, and dumping their garbage in the dumpster (hence the not smelling rosy) in the little courtyard right below my window until the early hours of the morning. So what I’m trying to say is that in addition to perhaps a fan and an eyemask, I need some earplugs.
Another adjustment I need to make is figuring out exactly how much time I can spend in my room when I am at home vs. out in the living room in the family. I was told Moroccans are very social and don’t really understand “alone” time, but really if this whole situation is going to work out for me (i.e. I won’t go insane,) I’m going to need “alone time.” Even today when I got back from school and basically walked in and said “Hello, I really need a nap right now,” I sat and drank tea for a while. But I figured over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be able to test the waters and figure out how to get in “alone time” without seeming anti-social or rude.
On a good note, I’m finding it easier and easier to communicate with Najah, my host sister. She’s very patient with me and I think she is just as eager as I am to get to know each other. She wants to take me to Casablanca for a soccer game and to show me her favorite restaurants. I also told her I want to learn how to cook and she said we could exchange recipes. Though she did think I was 29, turning 30 in September.
I know I said I’d post photos but also I really want to go to bed right now, so next time I suppose. Also I’m signing the Language Pledge on Friday so this may be the last Emily-Speaking-English for the time being.
Originally published at emilykbader.wordpress.com on August 31, 2016.