Kirstie Jarvis - French in Morocco
Arriving safely and soundly at Casablanca Airport is where my experience with Projects Abroad finally began. I was embarking on a one month trip taking part in the French course, which I found greatly helped me for when I then started studying French at university in September. With the July heat and clear blue skies, I was surrounded by a completely different world than that which I was used to. My second visit to an Arabic country, this time on my own, left me feeling quite nervous yet excited about what my one month ahead would be like.
After arriving in Rabat and finally meeting my host family, I instantly felt at home. Living in the old medina was definitely something I got used to quickly. However with the daily hustle and bustle of the market and crazy traffic outside in the city I was left feeling somewhat bewildered! I was fortunate enough to arrive on a Tuesday which is the day in which all of the volunteers in Morocco meet up. Having only arrived in this new country a couple of hours prior to the meeting, I then had to introduce myself to the group which was nerve-wracking! After I had spent some time talking to some of the other volunteers, who were lovely, I began to relax and became extremely excited. My first literal taste of Morocco was a glass of mint tea at the meeting, a Moroccan speciality, which was delicious!
My first full day there I was introduced properly to my surroundings inside and outside of the medina and made my way to the Projects Abroad office with one of the lovely members of staff. As I previously mentioned, the traffic and method of driving was completely crazy, as was having to share a taxi with six other strangers! Then I was introduced to my lovely French tutor, Madame Addidou. But that wasn’t the only wonderful thing I was introduced to that day! After going to a restaurant in town, I decided to try one of the national dishes; tagine. It was divine and a real favourite of mine whilst I was there.
I also discovered where to buy fresh cold bottles water, what was to become my favourite café and of course eating and being properly part of my host family. What was striking and somewhat surprising to me was how late during the evening my family and I sat down to eat dinner. As I recall it was around 11pm most nights! Nevertheless, it was a joy to be eating delicious home-cooked Moroccan food and enjoying the company of my host family. My host sisters in particular were full of conversation which, during my whole time there, I definitely cherished.
I was able to pick up some Arabic during my time in Morocco which was lovely as I find languages so interesting, but it was my French which I felt improved a lot due to the project I undertook. With such a kind and generous tutor, arriving at her apartment every morning at 9am didn’t seem like a chore at all, it was a joy to be able to practice my language skills and improve, especially considering four weeks doesn’t seem like a very long time! Having three hours French tuition from Monday to Friday allowed to me to be fully engulfed in my work, which I was then able to practice with my host family and when I went out with the other volunteers. I was extremely fortunate to have Madame Addidou as my tutor as she offered to show me around Rabat after classes had finished. This allowed me to get an insight into the other parts of town, which were also beautiful, but also to see how different life was like away from the medina.
Another way of exploring the beautiful country was by visiting the other cities and towns during the weekends with my fellow volunteers. I managed to visit Casablanca, Marrakech and Chefchaoen. One of my fondest memories of Chefchaoen, situated in the mountains in the North of Morocco, was hiking up past beautiful waterfalls, albeit in the stifling heat, making it to the top and then getting away from the heat by jumping in the icy waters. It was such an incredible experience and one of my favourite memories of my trip.
Aside from the joys of learning French, visiting other places and being with my host family was the joy of meeting some incredible people along the way. I am incredibly grateful for the close friendships that I have made and have continued, as the friends I made in Morocco I know, will be friends for life. I have so many fond memories of the time spent with my newly made friends, from drinking mint tea in our favourite cafes, exploring the old parts of Rabat together, taking as many photographs as we could, hilariously attempting to haggle prices in the souks of Rabat and Marrakech and one particular memory which leaves me elated each time I think back to it, was one of my closest friend’s last evening with us which coincidently was the night of the weekly meeting. I remember sitting, laughing, conversing with the people I had spent most of my time with, along with the Projects Abroad staff, eating exquisite Moroccan delicacies, which made and still makes me happy to think about!
Taking part in a project with Projects Abroad was extraordinarily rewarding despite the fact that my one month there flew by! Being a language volunteer I was able to converse in not one but two languages, picking up a third along the way. My time spent in Morocco is a time I will never forget and is one to cherish; such a beautiful country with so much to see, do and experience is one which gives me great satisfaction when I think back to when I embarked on my journey. Having such a fantastic cultural experience as well as an independent journey makes me extremely proud and I am exceedingly grateful to Projects Abroad for providing me with such an enriching and memorable experience.