Life in Fez

Day 05 in Morocco, first day of Arabic class

One of my classrooms is a 1930s-built mosaic-covered room with mirrors on every wall and beautiful white carving on the upper walls and ceilings. The marble floors and vibrant mosaics keep the room cool during the day, which is much appreciated in the 105-degree heat. There are four of us in my class, which makes for very engaging and personalized lessons. Being able to study in this city is incredibly motivating. With its ornate mosques in every neighborhood, Arabic calligraphy on doorways built centuries ago, and the melodic sound of Quranic verses filling the city streets day and night – I cannot think of a more inspiring or picturesque place to study Arabic than Fes.

The rest of the week…

The first week of classes went by in a blur. I met new friends, spent iftars with my host family, and explored various parts of the neighborhood and the old medina section of Fes.

After a few days my roommate and I learned how to walk to school (it’s a 20 minute walk through town), where to find food during fasting hours (there are a few options: the café at school, McDonald’s, and the local mall…), and how to cross the chaotic streets like the Moroccans do (walk/jog across lane-by-lane and hope that drivers will adjust their speeds or swerve around you. It sounds dangerous, but it is the only way to get anywhere and you quickly get used to it).

My roommate and I also discovered the joy and convenience of local fruit stands. With a large outdoor produce market across from our building, we have had constant access to fresh cherries, peaches, oranges, bananas and anything else we might want. The little wooden tables of fruit at the locals markets have been life-savers while we have been scavenging to find food during the daily fast.

The first weekend after school started a group of students spent a day in the Medina. In a few words, the Medina can be described as overwhelming, full of life, and a complete sensory-overload. The intricate French-inspired wooden balconies, stunning mosaic fountains,  and colorful doors of all shapes and sizes combined with the dirt-roads, donkey-powered carts and satellite dish-covered roofs makes for a fascinating setting for the scenes played out by the Medina’s visitors and inhabitants. The sound of merchants yelling prices and products, the synchronized calls to prayer, and the laughs of children playing fill the narrow medina streets. The smells of fresh mint, homemade bread and sweet pastries waft through the crowded pathways, providing constant temptation to visitors wandering the labyrinth-like Medina.

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