Pumpkins In My Dreams

I did not originally think I would write an entry for this week, as nothing close to an adventure occurred. However, many small events add up to one long, busy week worthy of being recorded. And my internet is currently being sapped by the fifteen emails I am sending to my university’s international programs office with high resolution photographs bound for our study abroad photo contest. So I might as well write.

Let’s start off the entry happy- with cats!

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This week in school was fairly low stress. We began the week with a lecture on colonial and post colonial art in Morocco. Though the art was relevant to the history we have been learning in class, the presenter spent all three hours of the presentation clicking through one slide after another until my mind was dumbfounded and numb from all the information. The post colonial art was deep and meaningful, entrenched with statements taking back possession power and culture. I was pleasantly surprised that I personally considered some of the post colonial pieces of art pretty, because I generally don’t enjoy modern art, much preferring literal artwork such as landscapes, portraits, or black and white photography.

On Wednesday we took a tour of an institute for Amazigh culture and language. Beyond the actual information that I absorbed during our time there, what stood out to me strongly was the stunning architecture of the building. It struck me vividly as exactly what you would see in California, with a fishbowl atrium lobby that provides visitors with a floor to ceiling view of the courtyard, the perfectly chilling temperature maintained by sliding glass doors. After briefly visiting the small research library, we were paraded outside for a photo-op, the guides informing us that we “must see the grounds in order to gain a better understanding of the institute’s mission” in a meek attempt at disguising the fact that they wanted to document our visit. I didn’t mind much, because as soon as the second set of glass doors we walked through that day opened,  I was back at home in California, swept away into a vision of drought-tolerant plants set against an adobe colored building and a rich blue sky.

Once we had adequately “oo-ed” and “aw-ed” at the landscaping for the camera, we went sent back inside to listen to lectures on the history of the Amazigh people, culture and language. Our first presenter wasn’t particularly engaging, and so despite the fascinating material he was speaking on, I found myself drifting off quite often. Our second presenter spoke in a tone that was just up-beat enough to hold my attention, teaching us the lengths the institute has gone to in order to standardize the Amazigh language and therefore preserve it for the future. At the end of the presentations we were given books on the Amazigh and released to begin our trek back to the medina. That evening I was completely exhausted from the trip and went to bed almost immediately after I got home.

The week concluded on Friday with a lecture on Sufism. I know very little about the subject, so I appreciated when the instructor began the class with a basic overview of the history of Sufism, but I don’t feel that I understand that actual practices of the religion any more now than I did before. However, due to my lack of knowledge, I don’t even know the questions to ask to find out more. I’m not very concerned because I’m not particularly interested in the subject, and if I ever needed to gain more depth on the subject the internet will always be there.

This week in Arabic we had skits on Thursday and brief speaking quizzes on Friday. I’m sure I messed up the pronunciation of loads of difficult words, but my professor often gives points for effort, so I doubt my grade will take a significant hit. On Monday we have our oral proficiency exams in Arabic and on Thursday is our final written exam, so I will be spending the majority of the weekend reviewing vocabulary and grammar lessons.

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Crates of fruit in the medina souq this week.

Mini Adventures…

My friend Helen and I have had our own mini-adventures this week. On Monday we were both hungry after class, and she was craving chicken nuggets, something we intended to get over the weekend but didn’t get around to. Since we had minimal homework, we wandered over to Ville Nouvelle and looked for a cafe or fast food restaurant that would sell chicken nuggets. We ended up at ‘Sandway’, Morocco’s version of Subway. Despite the assumed intentions by Sandway to mimic Subway’s concept of health food and sandwiches, and the similarities between the two retailers’ logo designs, Sandway did not sell customizable sandwiches, instead offering chwarma, burgers and chicken products.

After class on Friday Helen wanted fries and thought I could do with some chocolate, so we strolled along Mohammed Vth in Ville Nouvelle. On our way to Helen’s favorite cafe, we stopped in a bakery I spotted, and I got a pastry that I thought was mint. When we arrived at the cafe I opened the box and upon trying the pastry, I discovered it wasn’t mint, but some bizarre flavor infused in thick whipped cream. Rejecting the foul tasting empty calories, I settled for munching on some french fries and stopping for a small scoop of gelato on the way home.

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The decidedly NOT mint pastry. Thankfully, it was only one dollar.

Random occurrences this week…

On Thursday I found a logic puzzle book in our school’s library. I was not able to check it out, but I enjoyed doing a puzzle while waiting for my independent project consultation. The small joys make a big difference in how you remember a day.

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Another small joy this week- seeing this picture online of all the pandas born in China this year.

On Thursday my host brother and father seemingly disappeared. After not seeing them for two meals in a row, I asked my host sister where they were, and she told me they went to the family’s vacation home in Marrakech because my brother has time off of work. When I inquired about their intended returned date, my sister shrugged and informed me that it may be next week, maybe earlier or later. As is common in our household, very few definite plans are ever made and  even when they are, they are still subject to last minute change. I hope that they will be back by the end of this coming week, because (depending on where I go for my independent study period) I have very little time left with my host family.

Thursday evening at eight the movie ‘New Year’s Eve’ came on tv and since neither of my host sisters were actively watching a show at the time, I was able to watch the movie. Even though it’s very cheesy and unrealistic, I love movies in which there is a multitude of storylines and all the characters are connected in some way. Even more than that, I love holiday movies, and there is no movie that expresses the thrill and joy of a holiday celebrated in New York City than this one. This made my entire evening, but also prompted me to realize just how much I relish spending the holiday season with my family and how I miss being home during the time when the weather gets chilly and everyone gathers near with the people they care most about.

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A medina street completely silent early on Friday afternoon. Everyone goes home to eat couscous with their families.

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Couscous Friday

This weekend is intended to be calm and restful, both because I have two Arabic exams this coming week, and because I have been traveling the last five or so weekends. Last night my sisters and I watched yet another episode(s) (I am unsure of how many because each “episode” spans a few hours) of their favorite Bollywood soap opera, in which people get married, have affairs, fight with their families, kill each other, all while comically dramatic music guides viewers’ emotions, as if the yelling and crying on screen wasn’t enough. While tuning one ear to the rapidly spewed Arabic on tv, I occupied myself with sending in my photographs to my university’s study abroad photo contest. Though it took upwards of five hours for all the high resolution files to finally make it through my university’s mail system, my computer indicated this morning that they all arrived intact. I sent in the maximum number allowed (fifteen), and I am going to be waiting in suspense for the next month(s) until the winners are announced. It sounds trivial, but I have always dreamed of hanging a photograph of mine displayed publicly.

 

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Tajine for lunch today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Halloween, so while I do my Arabic homework and studying I will be listening to a collection of spooky music, and later I intend to go to the grocery store to pick up some chocolate to munch on. Sadly, there is no candy corn or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups here, so I will probably have to settle for a KitKat or another non-Halloween/peanut butter related candy, much to my dismay. That pretty much sums up my personal holiday celebration. I expect that Thanksgiving will pass with even less fanfare because it falls during our independent study period and I will likely be living on my own for those few weeks. I might investigate whether a large hotel that caters to tourists will be holding a Thanksgiving dinner, because I certainly am not able to cook anything you eat on Thanksgiving other than a pumpkin pie, but there aren’t any pumpkins in Morocco. (Imagine my disappointment when I found that out!)

 

What is an American with a sweet tooth to do when stranded in a world of Mars Bars and Kinder Eggs? Indulge her inner child and read delicious articles about Halloween. 

National Geographic – History of Candy Corn

 

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The only image I could find on the internet related to both Halloween and Morocco, that wasn’t the equation of a traditional Moroccan cultural event with Halloween.

 

Look out Halloween 2016 – I’m making plans for you! 

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Coming in my next entry… Finals Week! (Yes, in the first week of November.)

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