23 Apr Tips for enjoyable homestay in Morocco
Moving to country with similar culture is not a big deal. However, the bigger challenge is to move to the country so different from what we are used to. Seeing that the Arabic countries represent the culturally strict countries, I wanted to learn more. So I packed my backpack, found homestay and went to Morocco – to study French in Sprachcaffe.
Is homestay good choice for your trip?
Definetely is! Morocco is a gateway to Africa and very popular destination for travelers. People there are very tolerant towards other cultures. Tourists come here to learn more about Arabic culture and Islam. Although the first language is Arabic, the communication is also possible in French.
In Rabat, capital of Morocco, there is a great opportunity to live with local families. Homestays are provided through local NGO – Homestay in Rabat. The idea has a deeper meaning of connecting different worlds. However, several times students decided to change the family or live alone. There are different reasons like huge differences, students were inadaptable or communication problem. Also my stay with 70 years old lady wasn´t always trouble free. But this experience gave me more than I was expecting: I got deeper insight into the local community. It helped me to understand differences that caused misunderstandings for western travelers. And the most important, it gave me a feeling of being part of her family.
What can I eat?
You are expected to attend family activities once you stay in homestay. In Morocco it represents at least breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea. But communication is more important than food. Homestay families most of the time cook the traditional meals in order to save money. This is a great opportunity for traveler to learn more about traditional food. However, long term travelers can become overloaded with the same spices used in each dish. Nevertheless, eating at home is the best choice, especially at the beginning of your stay! You will be sure about hygiene, what is an issue when eating out.
Another issue is an alcohol. Although in Islam it is prohibited to drink, the situation in Morocco is not so strict. You can easily find liquor store. Also streets during Friday night look alike to any other European city. However, consumption of alcohol in a family is disrespectful! Keep in mind that also drinking too much at the party can cause a misunderstanding. Your Moroccan parents will surely wait for you to come back home safely and seeing you in “bad condition” will not be the best way of showing your respect.
Can we talk more about what we are not supposed to talk?
There are 3 topics that people do not talk about on public – Religion, King and Sahara Desert. The open discussion about religions is sensitive issue not only in Morocco. Keep this in mind and choose carefully with who and how you will talk about it. However, the advantage of living in a family is a development of open relationship. Such a relationship will allow you to be more open when it comes to sensitive questions. Try to avoid these discussions with local people you have no closer relationship. Most probably you will not get the answer and you will make them feel uncomfortable. In any case, if you know that you are convinced about your truth, rather stay away from these topics.
How to be a part of crowd?
Rabat is not as touristic place as Marrakech. That´s why going for jogging or to the beach in bikini is definitely not the way how it works. No one will prohibit you, but you will get too much unwanted attention. Although Moroccan girls are more and more courageous in dressing, it is required to be respectful. That means you should cover legs and arms.
The situation behind the door is a bit different. In our house we were only girls and our host mother called it freedom. House was the place, where she uncovered her head and we could walk in shorts. In fact, Moroccans are very caring and especially they take care about security of girls. Less clothes causes more attention and higher risk of harassment. That´s why host families care about dressing of foreign girls. For the safety reason 🙂
Rabat represents the place which tourists mostly skip or just stay during the day. That´s also the reason why young people prefer this place for longterm stay in Morocco. Rabat allows them to get real experience of Arabic culture, with a number of free time activities and developed cultural infrastructure. So definetely don´t skip it and enjoy your stay!
How to get maximum from your homestay in Morocco?
- take every situation as a learning process
- communicate with your host and always let them know what your plans are
- respect the culture and family rules
- if you have any troubles or feeling uncomfortable talk to the responsible of homestays
- smile and try to understand the situations also from point of view of your host family
- cook something good – you will make them smile 🙂