Je m'appelle Jihane and I am a 23-year-old social work student from Amsterdam. My parents are Moroccan, and I was born and raised in the Netherlands. This year is my final year of studying at the University of Applied Science of Amsterdam. Social work is my passion and I want to make a daily routine out of helping people. After all, what is more important than being good and helpful for the other?
Since childhood I have been spending my summer vacations in Morocco. However, I was not seen as one of the locals. That is not surprising considering that I behave more 'Dutch'. I only know the Dutch norms and values …
Speaking the local language, Darija, was not enough, although I spoke it fluently. To me it felt like every year the population of Morocco started to speak more French. First it was one word in a sentence, then it became half a sentence Darija and the other half French. Now there is usually only French spoken! Even when I talk to people in Darija, people respond in French. It frustrated me so much that I had no idea about how this happened and why people don't just speak their own language, in their own country. I asked the people around me who thought it might have something to do with socio-economic classes or want to make a certain impression. After all, French is the second language of Morocco.
I didn't know Rabat that well before, but I did visit the city sometimes. Now that I have lived here for a few months I have experienced what it is like. The Hassan district is full of businesses, organizations and universities. The trams and taxis are full every day because everyone works or studies, which seems to point to a certain population group. French is spoken at work and schools and facilities are designed around it, so everyone speaks French!
Since August 2019 I have been following this minor, called Culture and Society in Morocco. During this minor I could choose between learning the local Darija or French language. Of course, this was not a difficult choice since I am fluent in the local language. I have chosen this minor precisely for learning the French language. I have sometimes learned to learn some French at home (without success). But it seemed like a great experience to learn French and to be able to apply it immediately. People always assumed that I just spoke French because I spoke Darija. When they found out that this was not the case, they immediately knew that you were not a local.
The lessons focused on being able to express your opinion, feelings and ideas. This was incredibly useful because that is also what you are talking about every day. I was able to use the grammar and vocabulary that I learned during class directly. For example, I went to a restaurant and ordered completely in French and then I also asked for the bill in French! How proud are you if you manage this without any effort? Also did I went to a conference for my research that was in French. Beforehand I found this quite exciting and I would not be able to understand it. Once there, I understood almost everything because I recognized words.
I learned so much by being able to use the language directly and I hereby surprised myself a lot!