The title should really say, “the reality of moving to another country, reverting to Islam, getting married, and becoming pregnant.”
It’s a mouthful to say, read, and comprehend, so we’ll keep the focus of this article to some of my big take-backs from living here in Morocco.
This is life, right? Difficult to “figure out” and “comprehend” and most of the time the lightning fast time that fuels the chaoticism of our lives is actually quite faster than lightning and we find ourselves feeling apprehended and confused at where all this time we thought we had when we were in high school disappeared to.
I am very familiar with this feeling just as a 23 year old.
If you are familiar with our blog you can see that my husband and I met online and in March of 2016 I moved to Morocco to be with him. It’s been 8 months now, nearly 9, and I have been living in Tetouan, Morocco. I have learned a few words and phrases of Arabic/Darija, I have eaten the majority of the staple Moroccan foods, seen the touristic locations (except for Marrakech “the most popular,” Fez, and the Sahara desert), and basically lived the way of life here in Morocco.
How is this life in Morocco?
It’s just like everywhere else in the world, except different.
Ya know, you have human beings all over the world and the basic necessities of life are always the same, but then you think, well, what about the cultural differences?
Naturally, the culture of Morocco is different than any where in the world.
The beautiful things like the tagines, the lanterns, the baked goods, the music, the beautiful respect for bread and food, the hospitality, the language and dialects, the traditional celebrations for weddings, Ramadan, and Eid. The heavy influence of Islam that cannot be missed by the daily calls from the Adhan as well as the wearing of kaftans, hijabs, abayas, and jilbabs can tie all these gems of Morocco together.
The less obvious things are the similarities that Morocco, a third world country, has with America, a first world country.
The overall fact that everywhere in the world has problems can sum up this point. It’s only different because of money.
America has many problems. Political, social, and economic just like Morocco. This is not surprising. Maybe it is if you dream about Morocco from the mystical “Aladdin” perspective, but the people here struggle and succeed just as the people do in America. Moroccan people want the best life possible for them and their families just as Americans do. Since I’ve been living here I’ve seen that pollution is a major problem, respect for women in public (with or without the hijab) is not a priority for men, the transportation system is not safe (six people in a taxi that fits four with doors that barely close and no seatbelts and speeding (one example)), the education systems are less than progressive, low low job availability, the health care protocols are not developed, and the overall organization and maintenance of government is not there and local cities suffer because of it.
Yes, America has similar issues on a different scale because America has more money. You don’t flip through the TV channels and see clips of American depression, illness, financial hardships, environmental conditions, or the overbearing pressures of the social hierarchy. We just don’t get exposure to advertisements that feed the ethos and the connected obligatory urge to help, donate, or volunteer for Americans because our level of “problems” don’t LOOK like the problems in a third world country with less money. The issues and hardships are just more obvious with less money to sugar coat the entirety of this African country’s afflictions. Overall, the life of people in Morocco is a happy one. The children are raised Muslim and have a strong family core that will grow with them for the rest of their lives. Yes, this is always dependent on the person and the family, just as it is in America, but there is a sense of deep interconnectedness between families in Morocco that America may have lost a bit. The best examples are the sharing of meals, the respect for parents, and the “leave no one behind” attitude that runs through the veins of many Moroccan people I have had the pleasure of meeting. No one will be left with a glass half empty feeling when in a Moroccan home and that urgency to make someone feel loved stretches to strangers on the streets as well as stray animals. Again, not everyone is the same and there are people who couldn’t care less for himself or herself or anyone else, but I cannot speak for everyone here, in America, or anywhere else in the world. The basic identifiable similarity between all areas of the world seems to revolve around money. This is the bad news, but the good news is that love is the other similarity. It’s beautiful and no matter where you end up, you will see it in your own unique way. Whether it’s someone petting a cat on the street, giving money to a person in need, sharing a seat on the bus, or picking out the biggest pieces of chicken for the new American girl at the table…yes, that was an experience for me many times. Feel the love everywhere you go, even if it’s hard to look past the issues that finances create. This familiar feeling will make the differences of language, culture, and religion melt away.
I faced homesickness and culture shock too many times, but found myself replenished when I would stop and focus on the nice people in Morocco. A simple smile from a woman at a bakery standing behind all of her baked goods is something I will never forget. A book was given to me by a man at a local market to teach me about becoming a Muslim and I still see him at the market from time to time and we exchange smiles. An old woman gave up her bus seat to me because she saw that I was pregnant. I can’t express in words to these people how great they have made me feel for these small acts of kindness, but I don’t think I would truly go out of my way to do it in America either. I am lucky because I think not having the ability to verbally share my gratitude because of a language barrier here in Morocco will change this in me forever to always over exaggerate gratefulness when possible because this is love and this is what unites all cultures from every corner of the world and allows human beings an opportunity to forget about all of the chaos and the problems and just smile.