11 Things I’ve Learned in Morocco
- Laugh at yourself: it’s important not to take yourself too seriously. Making mistakes is both okay and normal, and poking fun at messing up makes it easier. Laughing at yourself is also a great way to spark a connection with someone.
- Reach out: I’ve been hardwired in my life at home to avoid strangers at all costs. But some of my favorite moments on the trip have been when I’ve talked to strangers on the street or in a store: being embraced by a woman at the mosque, sharing tea with a shop owner, hearing the taxi driver’s perspective on the infamous melui/msoumen debate.
- Be the first to volunteer: don’t stand back and wait for others before trying something. It’s exciting and rewarding to be the first to take a risk.
- When asking to help with something, always ask again, or just jump in and do it. People will appreciate the excitement to help, and the pushiness is quickly forgotten when you’re helping wash dishes.
- Help cook: helping cook is one of the fastest ways to connect. Laughing over peeling carrots, patiently learning how to make a dish, or dancing around the kitchen will create deeper bonds than you could expect.
- Show you’re trying: this has been especially key with darija. Even though my skills may be limited, throwing in a word or phrase is enough to spark a conversation. People will appreciate that you’re trying even if it’s not perfect.
- Eat meals together: with strangers, with friends, with family. Those lines are all erased when you’re sitting around a tagine or enjoying kaskaroot.
- “Inshallah”: things will happen if they’re meant to happen. Be patient.
- Ask questions: of others, of yourself. How is this different from my life at home? How is it better? Why does it exist in this way? Never accept what you see as it is.
- Be positive: it lifts your mood. It’s also infectious. Look on the bright side, there always is one.
- Be present in the moment: it’s easy to think about the future, about being somewhere else, about being with someone else. But enjoy the moment, it will be over before you know it.