Before I went studying at NIMAR, I had been in Morocco one other time within my bachelor’s program of French language and culture. We went to Rabat and Casablanca for linguistic research, and I remember being warmly welcomed at NIMAR. Among other visits and excursions, I will never forget the delicious tajine the staff made for us. Fast forward to one and a half years later, I have been living in Rabat well and truly for over 2 months now. I am not going to lie, I experienced the first period as pretty tough study-wise, but also personally. However, I kept track of all the fun things I did; and they should not be underestimated!
When I had just arrived, and the weather was still what you expect from a Mediterranean climate, I used to go to the beach or relax at my amazing balcony a lot. The medina was still a mysterious, crowded place to discover. I thought that with a few strolls around there, I would kind of know the place, where the shops are and everything, but how could I be more wrong… The only thing I know now is that you can get literally everything in the souq, but apart from that, it is still a maze to me.
During one of the first weekends, I went to Casa with a group of friends from NIMAR. We went to one of the biggest music festivals in the country: l’Boulevard. It was a great experience to see the Moroccan alternative youth culture, to stay in an Airbnb in the old medina (which was basically a room in someone’s house) and, of course, enjoy the music. Again, navigating the streets of the old town town was dazzling, more so because Casablanca’s medina seems even less structured and more crowded. That gave me a lasting impression of the city. Another city that I have visited is Tanger, on my way to Barcelona. The atmosphere there is very different from Casa. I only stayed for one night, but I would love to come back and explore more. If you have even more time to travel, you should consider going to Sebta, one of the Spanish enclaves. It is more than worth the visit! Apart from being a super neat and architecturally beautiful city, you can go shopping, have dinner at the boulevard and go out in one of the nightclubs.
Back to Rabat where I live in the neighborhood of Hassan and really enjoy walking down the broad avenues or in the flowery streets of the Oudaya. When I get tired, there is always a coffee waiting for me in one of the many, many cafes. My favorites are Café Museum (not the one in the Modern Art Museum, but across from it), Cozy Café and La Sala Anne Marie. These are the perfect hot spots to do some studying or meet up with friends.
Lastly, I like cooking Moroccan food a lot. I have to mention that the cuisine surprised me in a positive way. In the Netherlands, I try to eat as plant-based as possible, and even though Morocco does not have many plant-based substitutes yet, many traditional dishes are ‘accidentally’ vegan. My all-time favorite is zaalouk, and I have prepared the traditional couscous on Friday as well. I love hosting dinner parties, or go to others and bring my homemade dish for a real Moroccan food feast.
Whether I will ever find my way through the medina without getting frustrated or lost, we yet have to find out, but honestly, who really does?