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Who Knew

snow 30 °F
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So this photo shows the view from my window on one of my first nights staying at AUI. I couldn't ask for it to be any more beautiful.

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This following picture is what my view looks like now.

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Who knew it could snow so much in Africa! To me, this weather is not ideal. But this weekend's weather in Fes and Meknes will hopefully be a lot warmer!

Today was the first day of classes. Walking to class was more of a struggle than actually attending class. Most of the walkways here are marble. And when marble is wet, your shoes slide all over the place! Luckily I did not wipe out on my first day of class!

My first class today was Principles of Sociology and I loved it! My teacher, Steve, was so funny and I can tell this class will be very interesting! He began the class with a drawing of a girl pulling her hair out and asked the class why she might be doing this. A student named Mohamed spoke up and said that she is probably emotionally happy. Steve put him down right away and said, "Nope. This girl is a deranged bitch." He continued the class talking about how the average woman is born with a more developed frontal lobe in the brain than the average male. Mohamed, of course, challenged this and said that he was born smarter than the average woman. Steve jumped right in and said that this could be true considering some men are born more feminine than others.

Later I went to my class with Nikita, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. I'm not sure how interested in this class I will be, but I know it will information that I need to know, especially for adapting to a new culture!

Later in the afternoon I went to my Communications through speaking class. I arrived on time and my classmates slowly filled in all the seats. In Morocco, arriving on time usually does not happen as strictly as it does in America. However, we were told that our teachers here should be punctual. Well, after 15 minutes of waiting for my professor, the whole class got up and left. So my first day was pretty easy!

Everything so far is going well. Rania, my roommate, has been great and has given me the down low about AUI. Tomorrow I have History of the Arab World and Beginning Arabic I. I will flush the toilet at 9:00 pm and wear my pj's inside out in hopes of a snow day, but if not I hope my classes go well!

Posted by htoberman 10:39 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Orientation and Settling In

snow 20 °F
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Orientation took place from Thursday to Saturday. It was definitely a rough couple of days! I did however learn a couple new things about campus, Ifrane, and Morocco.

Apparently, the grass on campus is "sacred." We are not allowed to walk on the grass, only on the marked pathways. Also, cats are all over campus. When I went to downtown Ifrane I even saw a cat in one of the cafes!

It has been snowing a lot. I hope the weather gets nice again soon! I am freeeeeezing here! It has been pretty frustrating dealing with all of the issues with becoming an exchange student. For instance, the Internet will not work, I cannot set up my printing account, I cannot send through my transactions for paying for the semester, and everything seems to not work here. Hopefully it doesn't continue to feel this way, but I know I will just have to adjust to this new culture.

I met my roommate, Rania, today and I think she will be a great roommate! Things are definitely getting interesting here! I am very nervous for classes to start up tomorrow. Nikita, a couple girls from the University of Dayton, and I have been hanging out and planning spring break. Right now we are looking at traveling around Italy for spring break. Who knows what experiences are headed my way! We are also planning on traveling to Marrakech for my birthday. This is going to be a great adventure, I just want to start exploring today!

Posted by htoberman 10:05 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

My First Day In Ifrane

sunny 40 °F
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Everything seemed to be looking up! After I woke up, I decided to find other exchange students. I met up with Lauren and walked around our school's campus. It is BEAUTIFUL here! The sun was out and I fell in love with this campus - even though I kept getting lost since every building looks identical!

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Later on, I went to downtown Ifrane with Keriah, Lauren, Matt, and "Geronimo." I had my first mint tea experience and it was amazing! We walked to the marché and had an amazing lunch. The market is like nothing I've seen before! There are many fresh fruits and vegetables sold every day, along with chicken and goat meat hanging from the ceiling. I have been amazed by how cheap everything has been! My lunch was 30 MAD, which is close to $3. I could get used to this!

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The one thing that I have found difficult so far is the language barrier. Most people speak either French or Arabic. I can understand some of the French, but it is hard to shop at the market without knowing what to say. I feel like I'm playing a game of charades with the sellers. I also never know what to expect when I play eenie-meenie-miney-mo in order to choose a meal off of a French/Arabic menu!

I explored the campus more and even went on a hike with some of the exchange students behind my dorm. The pool here is beautiful! Unfortunately, the gym looks like a place that ex-convicts might spend their time at. I guess we will see how working out ends up this semester. I have been walking all over the place, so my feet have been killing me and I have been getting some exercise in!

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My first two nights here I made a megabed with Lauren and Keriah. It was nice getting to spend time with other girls and not feel so lonely! They definitely helped me transition into this new environment. I couldn't have asked for a better group of exchange students!

Posted by htoberman 09:03 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

And I'm Off!

overcast
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I was extremely nervous/scared/excited to leave for Morocco! It all finally felt real on the Saturday before I left when I actually began to pack my suitcases - and buy my suitcases. My mom drove me to the airport and sent her "baby" off! I cannot believe it was finally time for me to leave the country.

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On my 7 hour plane ride from Cincinnati to the Paris De Gaulle Aiport, I tried to fall asleep. However, three movies and a bunch of plane food sounded more exciting. The plane plumpened me up with chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, cheese and crackers, a bread roll, Nutella, cranberry almond flatbreads, an egg mcmuffin, orange juice, and more.

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When I finally arrived to the Airport, I was overwhelmed by everyone speaking French. I struggled to find my way to the shuttle to Terminal 1. Absolutely no one understood my plane tickets and I thought I'd never make it onto my plane!

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When I found customs, I was told I could not get my tickets yet. I was burning up, I felt so dehydrated, and I didn't know if I could drink the water in Paris! I went to a little coffee shop and asked the worker if she knew where the closest water fountain was or if she could fill up my water bottle. She grabbed my water bottle out of my hand, filled it up with water, and handed it to me. Just my luck, I burned my hand as she handed me scolding hot water. After I dumped the water out and filled it up with the bathroom sink water I popped a squat on a chair, sat on my carryon, and passed out for my ten hour lay over.

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Eventually I made it to my gate and walked onto my Air Maroc plane. Everything felt surreal as I was greeted by Moroccan flight attendants. I sat next to the sweetest lady from Guinea for this plane ride. Three hours and forty-five minutes later I arrived to the creepiest airport ever, Casablanca.

In Casablanca, the security guy did not even look at my carryon as it passed through the x-ray. He glanced at his phone and I passed through, confused in the airport once again. I made it into the dead zone of Casablanca and eventually made it onto the plane headed for Fez. In Fez I was greeted by palm trees. People offered me taxi rides and I found three girls also going to AUI. Amal and Hajab found us eventually, greeted us so nicely, and we made our trek to Al Akhawayn University.

My first night at Al Akhawayn University was extremely lonely, sad, and I almost found myself in tears when I called my mom. My room felt like an igloo. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I woke up the next day at 3:00 pm. I had no motivation at all, but luckily I got Keriah and Lauren's numbers the night before. Thankfully, this day turned around and ended up making me feel like Morocco is where I belong!

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Posted by htoberman 08:40 Archived in USA Tagged morocco aui al_akhawayn_university Comments (0)

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