Intercultural

5 Unexpected Perks of Studying Abroad in Morocco

Anneli Olausson is a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying with ISA in Meknes, Morocco

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Marhaba and welcome to Morocco!

Coming to Morocco, I knew that I was in for some changes in my daily life. These were some of the things that most pleasantly surprised me:

How cheap everything is!

A definite plus of Morocco is how insanely cheap most things are. Daily purchases are a fraction of their price in the U.S. Coffee is generally around 50 cents (USD) and you can get a huge glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and a pastry for 1 USD. Leather items and other craft goods are also insanely affordable here, creating ample opportunity for shopping.

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Just a small example of all the great crafts in Asilah.

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In addition to being cheap, most goods are handcrafted. At a pottery studio, we got to watch them make these pieces from start to finish.

Mint tea is a lifestyle.

Mint tea is nothing short of ritual here, consumed on a daily basis and on every occasion imaginable. The tea is simple and sweet, made by boiling fresh mint leaves with mysterious powders and adding large amounts of sugar! Each place has their own variation, but my favorite is our housekeeper, Khadija’s.

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Couscous Friday

Yes, it is true. There is a day of the week devoted to couscous, and if this isn’t enough to convince you to come to Morocco, I don’t know what is. Served weekly in a huge tajine, couscous Friday has long been a tradition based off bringing families together after Friday prayers at the mosque. Couscous Fridays have become a favorite event around our apartment and they add another reason to the long list of why Fridays are the best.

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One of the many variations of what Friday lunch looks like!

Moroccan Hospitality

Southern hospitality has nothing on Morocco. The extreme hospitality I have received here has been one of the most surprising things I have experienced abroad. There have been multiple times when people I have just met open their homes to me for tea or invite me to come visit them wherever their homes may be. And no, this does not come off as creepy at all as it could in the U.S., but instead is an expected and required attitude of kindness and generosity.

Clean Eating

One of the best parts about all the food here is everything is fresh and local. Processed foods are few and far apart, rarely making an appearance in the meals here. Without even trying, I was eating much healthier in Morocco as I was eating fresh foods. Imagine my shock when eating grapes that have seeds, as they haven’t been genetically modified. Bread is bought daily from a bakery down the street, most vegetables are from a farm in the town over and meat is local.

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Many locals head over to the medina for the freshest selections of food (and lots and lots of olives).

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Things are very different from home, but in a good way.

Want to learn more about Morocco? Check out “All Good Things are Blue:  A Weekend in Chefchaouen”