As I embarked on my journey to Morocco, my thoughts and emotions have yet to be developed. I simply packed my bags with all of the necessary items I need to begin my path of Arabic in Ifrane, the small mountain city were I would attend Alakhawayn University. The idea of leaving the United states, preconceptions, and self discovery are what encompassed my thoughts.
It wasn’t the first time I would be leaving my home town of Kansas City in search for knowledge, but this trip is definitely leaving a mark in my life which I never would have imagined. After nearly 15 hours of flight, I finally reached Casablanca and had the honor to stay with a local family in the heart of the city.
Coming from a Palestinian background, I thought I would be somewhat familiar with the culture, food, and all that has to do with norms. I was definitely in for a surprise. I discovered that whenever traveling to a new place, one must leave any and all preconceptions back home. When I entered thinking about my background, it took the fun out of exploration. So I made it my mission to leave all my previous notions about Morocco and soak in as much as I could from the sea of what has yet to be unearthed.
Moroccan culture has many similarities to the United States, as well as many differences. When greeting a fellow person, whether you know them or not, it is only normal a hand shake, hug, and lightly kiss each cheek twice. When I had dinner with a local family, the whole family gathered together at a precise time to enjoy a tradition Moroccan meal such as tagien or cous cous. The similarities and differences are everywhere, but it just requires someone who is willing to explore them. My exploration is allowing me to discover who I really am and keeping an open mind will only feed this fire for knowledge.