Just One, Please

So today I was buying some minutes for my phone, which was a supremely awkward mix of French, English, and Arabic (which I had no idea what was going on) at this little store near my school. As I was trying to communicate with one of they guys working there, some young-ish person strolled by, caught the eye of the othey guy working there, and bought one cigarette. Yeah, just one. He lit it and continued to the corner where he was waiting to cross traffic.

The fact that here you can just buy one, unwrapped and inidentified, struck us as hilarious. Brynn and Pete tried to convey this to him, but we think he thought that Pete was trying to buy it from him. Haha–just kind of adds to the funny. Finally, Brynn said something in Arabic that was pretty “In America it is not possible to buy just one. I like this very much.” The other funny part of this is that when Brynn tries to tell us what she had said in Arabic (on this and other occasions) she slips into a wacky “Borat”-esque voice, even though we’re all Americans I guess she feels like it helps her convey her halting, stammering incorrect speech? Either way we always get a kick out of Borat Brynn.

Let’s Start Learning

We started classes today. Arabic from 8:30 to 11:45(?) and CORE class from 2:00 to 5:00. Each class gave us a break halfway through; don’t worry about me too much.

Arabic is, well, Arabic… today I began to learn the alphabet, which the teacher claimed was “not too hard” but HE WAS WRONG–it is way hard. I feel like a little kid, except my teacher goes waaayyy faster and I don’t have adorable little board books with apples and boats and cats. I’m totally getting gypped! In the last half of class he tried to teach me “Hi,” “My name is Staci,” and “I’m from America,” but he was going at light-speed and since I just started learning my letters today I couldn’t really decipher the words as quickly as he expected me to and there were no English phonetic transcriptions so it really is incumbent on me to learn these letters as quickly as possible. Maybe sometime I’ll get one of the advanced students to help me type some so I can show you how difficult it really is. Did I mention I am the only student in the class?

For lunch we had hamburgers and fries at a cafe THAT HAS BRAINS ON THE MENU. Yes you read that right. Brains. I was the only one who noticed because it said “cervelle,” and the others in the group don’t speak French and didn’t know the Arabic word for brain. Upon further investigation it was confirmed that yes, one can order brain for cheaper than a hamburger. GROSS RIGHT?!

The CORE class is our Moroccan history/sociology/politics/etc class and was a welcome breath of fresh air after crazy hard Arabic in the morning. Discussing Morocco is great and using two languages I know (English, litereally, and the language/vocabluary of Political Science, thank you) was MUCH BETTER.Β  But yeah the professor seems really knowledgeable and he explained things in a way that made 3 hours go by really quickly.

I have homework already!! Its actually kind of nice having something to do in my spare time (that is, something I HAVE to do).

My Host Family

I am now at my host family’s house… my house for the next six weeks. I was placed with them because they speak French! They are actually related to my residential director. I got here around four or five PM, and had nothing to do but shoot the breeze with my host dad… in French. My conversational French skills are completely lacking. There’s something wrong with my brain’s ability to convert thoughts into words… I can write OK in french; I don’t know what’s my road block as far as speaking goes.

Luckily I can communicate OK. I can only imagine what Brynn is going through. She had two “easy” years of Arabic and her family doesn’t really speak English. She wasn’t that confident in her ability to speak, so I guess I’ll find out tomorrow how it went. Like I said I am having an OK time communicating but they probably think I’m super boring because I can never think of a reply to any questions until like 5 minutes later–by that time we have moved on.

A note on dinner… here they eat dinner REALLY LATE! Like, not until 9PM! Luckily lunch is always humongous so I don’t really get hungry until then anyway. They keep forcing food on me! I am going to gain like a zillion pounds over this trip. Gym membership here I come!

Also, I took the bus today, with Selema (host family’s daughter, 18 years old). Is it bad I feel more confident on a Moroccan bus than I do trying to navigate the San Diego bus system? Also, the bus is SO CHEAP– about 4 dirhams one way which is like… 50 cents? Nice.