A warm home and insight into the traditional Moroccan lifestyle
During my semester at the NIMAR I lived with a Moroccan family in their home in the heart of the old Medina of Rabat. The time I spent in Morocco has been one of the best experiences of my life and my Moroccan host family is one of the best parts of the entire experience.
A 'riad' in the 'medina'
I arrived In Rabat in January 2016 and got dropped off at my new family by Farid. From that first night on I was treated like a part of the family. My family lives in a traditional Moroccan house called a riad. The family had set me up with a small room with a good bed and a desk. It wasn’t very special but it was fine for me for the time I was there. The first week of my stay I didn’t have any classes so my family showed me around the town and taught me how to find my way in the narrow streets of the medina.
The family consisted of the father and mother, their 2 adult sons 3 daughters a grandson and a granddaughter. They also had one other daughter who lived in a nearby town with her husband and their young daughter. Staying with the host family had its advantages and disadvantages. It taught me a lot about the Moroccan culture and way of life and it has greatly improved my Moroccan Arabic because from day one it was all I heard around me so I got used to the sound of it quickly. I Also didn’t have to clean or cook for myself so I did not have to worry about that either.
I learned about all kinds of Moroccan food, music and traditions like going to the hammam every week and eating couscous on Friday, and my new knowledge impressed many of my new Moroccan friends who thought it was hilarious how well I was integrated into Moroccan society.
Also with a Moroccan family you never know what’s going to happen and you’ll never be bored. For example, one day I was just sitting on the couch with my host sisters and mother and suddenly one of Morocco’s most famous actors Shafiq Shimi walked into the room. It turned out that they were about to shoot a couple of episodes of a tv show in our street and they needed a place to use as dressing room and lounge for the actors. My family welcomed them into their home and we spent a couple of weeks hanging out and having lunch and dinner with some of the actors and members of the crew which was a lot of fun and it was especially nice to see the scenes they shot near our house on tv when they aired.
My only problem with the family was that the food that my host mom cooked wasn’t always good because the family didn’t have a lot of money so sometimes dinner just consisted of bread, oil and some vermicelli cooked in milk or some boiled potatoes. But since Moroccan street food is both really cheap (30 dirhams for a nice tajine or a plate of couscous , 5 dirhams for a bowl of harira) and super delicious I could always find something nice to eat.
Something for you?
I would really recommend any future NIMAR students to stay with a Moroccan family because the friendly and welcoming Moroccans will definitely make your time in Rabat extra special and it will give you an insight into the traditional Moroccan lifestyle. I can guarantee that it will also really improve your Moroccan Arabic and I think I that at least half of the things that I have learned was taught to me by my family and especially in the beginning when we were still studying the very basics of the language in class I could already understand a lot more because off all the things that my host brothers and sisters had taught me.