Last night of freedom!! (i.e. English)

First off I guess I should let everyone know that I am feeling much better today and luckily my illness (or whatever it was) was confined to just 1.5 crappy days. So Mom, I am fine and doing well. There were several people doting over me yesterday and you have nothing to worry about.

So tomorrow morning I sign the language pledge! Aldjfalsdfjalsdfjlasdfjsladfkjad (I’m just trying to get in my last bit of English before I say no more until December.)

Nothing new to report in the one day since I last wrote, but Achraf, the residential coordinator (who I know is reading this and specifically requested this story,) said to write about something I did yesterday which was this:

So “shwaya” in Arabic means “a little” or it could mean slow down or anything in between I guess. Combined with a specific hand gesture it would communicate to the person you are conversing with to slow down. So yesterday I was talking with Najah and she was going really quickly so I said “shwaya” and used the hand gesture, but she didn’t understand what I meant. So instead I said لا أريد blbalblalbalblblalbl (I do not want *blah blah blah very quickly*), أريد blaaah blaaaah blaaaah (I want “blah blah blah very slowly*). (This worked and she slowed down.) This may only be funny because everyone I told this to is very tired and also understand the difficulties of communicating what you want to a native speaker.

And on understanding things — and the difficulties — I’m beginning (at least I think) to understand more of what my host family is saying. Namely, what they’re saying about me. Today, my host mom was speaking on the phone with a director of my program (@Achraf — who is Lofti??) and I’m 97% sure she said that she keeps having to ask me if I understand what she is saying and that I need an Arabic dictionary, etc. etc. There is a strong chance I was completely wrong, so forgive me if I have incorrectly translated. I don’t mean to talk badly about my host family given their hospitality, generosity, and kindness; but it can be a little frustrating since this is only my first week here — and I am here to learn. It’s been difficult to communicate when they speak to me in a mixture of formal Arabic, darija (Moroccan Arabic), and French but I am trying my best and eventually, this shouldn’t be a problem once I know some darija. Some of the other students have talked about how great they get along with their families, but since they speak French they’ve had a chance to get to know them in French first before switching to Arabic tomorrow. During orientation, we spoke about our concerns with our ability to express ourselves, etc., and I said what I dislike the most about learning a new language is the rather high potential to seem like a bumbling idiot. But as always, I know to take this as a learning experience and not to focus on the negative aspects of study abroad.

In terms of my classes, in addition to Modern Standard Arabic and Moroccan Arabic (Darija), I will be taking two content courses: Contemporary Political Issues in Morocco and North Africa, and Media Culture. We met our professors today and had dinner with them and on the bright side, I don’t think I made too big of a fool of myself. I definitely did not understand their introductions to their courses word for word, but I got the general ideas and some specifics. At least I think.

Side note: Rabat is a beautiful city. The ocean at sunset is spectacular. But I do not dig the cats everywhere. Most especially the cat in my apartment alley that makes worrisome noises and occasionally causes me to close my window just enough so even the thinnest cat could not slip through. You know, just in case a cat somehow makes it up to my window.
 Also, سعيد يوم مليلاد، أب! Happy birthday, Dad!

Originally published at on September 1, 2016.

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