September Wishlist
Monday, September 09, 2019

September Wishlist

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My 4 Goals for September
Sunday, September 08, 2019

My 4 Goals for September

1. Gratitude prayer every morning & night
Every morning and every night takes place in the same setting - in bed. There is a brief moment before I sleep and just as I wake up where I reflect on the day I've had, and the day I have upcoming. In these moments, I will begin again my gratitude prayers. I used to write these down in a notebook, but I felt it kind of forced. Praying with my thoughts, feelings and physical body will allow me to be more expressive and genuine. The way I am making this happen is by setting a reminder on my phone at 8am in the morning, and 10pm at night. The reminder doesn't come off the notification screen until I actively remove it / mark it as completed.

2. Discipline
Discipline is a characteristic that I greatly admire in others and something I have always wanted to build upon in myself. The way I am working on my discipline this month is by doing the Kayla Itsines BBG 1.0 program, and sticking to it everyday, including my travel days. I also have a reminder for this daily in my phone called "Have you sweat today?" 

3. Water / Hydration
From my Ayurverdic experience, I know that my body feels and performs its best when it is kept cool and hydrated. This is predominantly maintained by what I put in my body, both food and water. I find that when I drink more water, I naturally gravitate towards healthier and more hydrating foods. So the way I will be keeping myself accountable for this goal is to drink 2 litres of water every day. I have a 500ML glass bottle that I keep on my desk, so I will only need to drink at least 4 refills - but I also have 500ML in the morning and about the same at night!

4. Focussing on appreciation, avoiding complaining
This one might be the hardest one to keep track of, however I am sure that my first goal will assist with this one. My natural state is a very positive mindset, however I will admit that a lot of my habits involve complaining or downplaying positivity, especially in the way I communicate with others. The funny thing is, it doesn't make me feel good at all - not even in the moment and I almost immediately regret it afterwards. The way I aim to work on this is to try to catch myself before I am about to express negativity or complaining, OR if I catch myself after the fact, follow-up with a positive thought / expression to express (most probably) how I truly feel about the situation. 

For example, when you come home from a long day of work, and someone asks "How was your day?" Usually the response is, "Gosh, I'm so tired." But that is a response from autopilot. Usually, what I'm really thinking is - "Wow I can't wait for a shower" or "I'm so excited to have dinner". Like I said, naturally I'm a very excited and positive person but my habits introduce negativity into my state of mind, and this is something that I CAN change, and will!
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Answering 5 Common Questions about Morocco
Friday, July 26, 2019

Answering 5 Common Questions about Morocco

Chefchaouen, Morocco

*Please keep in mind that these answers are based on my own experience/opinion. I have been 'living' in Morocco with my boyfriend for three months, however have not had experience with jobs / legal administration and so, cannot provide in-depth insight on those topics.* 

1. Is Morocco a poor country? / Is Morocco glamorous?
Morocco is technically classed as a third-world country. There is still a percentage of people living in poverty, however there is also a lot of development occurring, especially in the major cities like Casablanca and Rabat. We live in Sale-Rabat, and just in this city alone, you can find all ends of the spectrum. There are families living in poorly constructed sheds, to families living in well-built homes that have been in the family for generations, to those living in villas and owning multiple properties on the beach or Marina. There is such a large spectrum across Morocco that is quite endearing and there are a lot of positive changes that are taking place. There is still corruption within the country (especially within the police/law enforcement) and the country has a government, but headed by the King. A lot of people are money-motivated as would be expected/natural given the situation of the country, however as a visitor, you probably won't experience this side of things.

As for glamour, I feel like this is a common misconception that derived from social media - particularly Instagram influencers. Moroccan design is about colour and flair, with a big emphasis on beauty. A lot of people would ask me if Morocco is truly as beautiful as Instagram! There is definitely beauty that I truly appreciate innate in Moroccan culture and traditions, however it is still a developing country and there is litter, sewerage smells and roaming cats and dogs on the streets. 

As a vistor of the country, you can really make the experience your own depending on which style of travel you like, or what kind of experience you wish to delve further into within Moroccan way of life. You have options to stay in the rural areas of the mountains where people live a very humble and traditional lifestyle. Or you can have experience a mid-range style of life, within a moderately priced Riad or hotel, visit the restaurants within the local area etc. Or you can go all out and have a truly elite experience within some of the country's most renowned hotels which WILL give you the 'glamour' effect of Morocco, highlighting all the beauty within the traditions of the country. 

Riad Nirvana, Marrakech, Morocco

2. Is it unsafe for women? / Are women treated equally?
As a visitor, I have never felt that my safety was compromised being a woman - bearing in mind that I do have a Moroccan boyfriend and also that we are living in the capital city. However, there is a very obvious difference between men and women within the country which has been carried down by the beliefs of Islam. Women do tend to cover up more - it's quite rare to see women walking around in shorts or tank tops, and a lot of women wear their hijab when out in public. Something that I noticed when I first experienced life in Morocco during my visits were that even my boyfriend's friends wouldn't address me until he introduced me. It's a sign of respect for both of us, in that I am his partner and it's not right for them to talk to me unless he has introduced us first. While this derived from religion, it is more now a sign of respect rather than religiously instructed. 

I have heard that women travelling in more touristic areas, especially solo, tend to have more male-attention and some have had negative experiences. I, for instance, usually have men trying to talk to me when I'm at the airport. However, they have always been respectful and never crossed the line with me, and have always stopped as soon as I have asserted that I'm not interested with short responses and my tone. 

Gender roles are also still prominent within the culture. Men are supported to be masculine, strong and physical and women are characterised as gentle, beautiful and head of the homely duties. However, Moroccan women are very outspoken, loud, joyful and funny! The gender roles are there, as I mentioned, carried down by tradition however are not enforced. 

Morocco is one of the world's most liberal Muslim countries, and with changing times and globalisation, younger women are starting to steer closer and closer towards a more European style of life. You can find younger women in bikinis, short dresses, wearing make-up, casually going out with boys and finding that younger men are accepting of these changes. They are not ridiculed by the older generation (generally speaking) and while religion is still very prominent in the country, it's more the values of being Godly, kind, loving and healthy as opposed to following the 'strict rules' you may find in other Muslim countries. 

Temara, Morocco

3. What's day-to-day life like? 
Moroccan life is slow-paced and relaxed. A traditional Moroccan day (so that not of someone working a 9-5) looks like waking up around 11am or 12pm (excluding waking up to pray, if they choose to), having breakfast as a family, which then proceeds to cleaning up and maintenance around the house until lunch time, which is around 2pm or 3pm. This again, usually happens as a family. Students come home from school to have lunch, and most hanouts (stores) close during this time to attend lunch and enjoy an afternoon nap. Around 6pm or 7pm, it's time for atay (tea) which is a tea/coffee break with the family, including Moroccan tea, coffee, lots of sugar and biscuits or cakes as a snack. Dinner time is around 10pm - 11pm, enjoyed again as a family. Meal-times are times for catch-ups and laughter, as well as a technology detox (no phones!) On Friday afternoons at 1pm, most stores and businesses close as this is an Islamic Holy Day, in which workers go home to enjoy cous-cous with their families, afternoon naps and an afternoon of devotion to God. (Keep this in mind if you're travelling! In most tourist areas, business will carry on as usual, however further out from that, resources may be more sparse!) 

In terms of going out, men usually frequent around cafes, especially when there is a soccer game on. In one street, you may find that every second establishment is a cafe. Women tend to enjoy going shopping which can happen in traditional malls with international brands, or more commonly, the souk (markets) where you can find groceries, gifts, clothes. Men and women alike can enjoy the hammam (public baths) for their showers (most locals don't opt for massages that are offered in tourist places!) And if you live near the Atlantic, going to the beach is a very popular activity. 

More recently, a lot of younger adults tend to enjoy the bars and clubs that are starting to pop up in the cities, as it is legal to drink within these establishments. 

Home-made cous cous

4. What language is spoken in Morocco?
Morocco is a mixed-bag of cultures and you can try your luck with a few different languages! The official language of Morocco is Arabic; this is the language taught in schools and it's important for them to know Arabic as this is the language of the Quran. This also means they are able to interact with other Arabic-speaking countries and can understand a majority of the languages spoken in other Arabic-speaking countries. However, this is a language that is taught within school, so not everybody is able to speak traditional Arabic fluently. And an even lesser amount of people are able to write traditional Arabic.

The common spoken language of Morocco is Darija which is the Moroccan dialect, and is not used in other Arabic countries. The sounds of this language is similar to the alphabet of traditional Arabic and also a little bit of French and Spanish mixed into it as well. In my personal opinion, the language is much softer than traditional Arabic (not to say that Moroccans are soft/quiet. Quite the contrary!) Knowing this language or at least a few key words will mean that you will be able to communicate with pretty much anybody you come across. 

Berber is also technically considered a national language of Morocco, however most younger generations don't speak this and are not taught this dialect. Those living in rural areas and the mountains tend to communicate in Berber as their primary language and older generations may know this language, however those living in cities and those of the younger generations don't know how to speak Berber, and it doesn't really have much connection to Darija. 

A majority of Morocco was colonised by France, and so most people speak French as a second language. French is also taught from primary school, however that does not mean that everybody is fluent in French. They would know the basics and how to carry a conversation with small talk, but probably not in-depth. An in-depth understanding of fluent French would require further education or self-learning outside of school, however it is a safe bet that if you speak French, you would be able to find people to communicate with. 

Spanish is also spoken within the northern parts of Morocco, closer to the Spanish border. In places like Tangier, Spanish is more commonly spoken than French. Further down south, it's not as common to find people speaking Spanish (I personally haven't come across anyone who speaks Spanish) however the news is delivered in Darija, French and Spanish.

English is less commonly known around Morocco. Those who have had further education or are self-taught can communicate in English, however not everybody can or at most, would know just the basics or have heavy accents. There is however, a growing population of English speakers within Morocco as it is also taught in high school, although at a very basic level. 

Some basic common phrases that will help you in Morocco:
Salam Alaykum = Hello 
La bas? = Are you fine? (To answer, you can say, la bas.) 
Afak = Please
Shoukran = Thank you 
Bzaf = A lot
Chwya (Shwee-ya) = A little
Atay = Tea
Cafe = Coffee

Oued Luau, Morocco

5. Is Morocco expensive?

Similar to the first question, it can be. It depends which end of the spectrum you would like to experience. With regards to accomodation, you can find some places to stay on AirB&B or (which is more commonly used here) for very, very cheap, bearing in mind that you get what you pay for (this may compromise on modern furniture or a traditional squat toilet). However, you can also stay in luxury hotels, as seen on Instagram. For food, local restaurants and street stalls tend to price foods at £2 - £4 for an entire meal, whereas chains like McDonald's, and supermarkets like Carrefour will have comparable prices to Europe or the UK. The same is for shopping - international brands will be comparable to Europe and the UK, whereas you will find bargains in the souks (markets) - keeping in mind that it is expected that you negotiate / barter. Taxis can be priced up for tourists but again, is expected to be negotiated. There are also 'petit taxis' that can pick up 5 - 7 different customers at a time and drop you off along the route. This is usually between 5 - 10 dirhams (which is about £1).

For a Moroccan, prices can be quite high seeing as their salaries don't match Europe or the UK, but their cost of living can. Please keep this in mind if you are travelling to Morocco, and a vendor may tell you a price that is completely ridiculous, but in reality, is only £1 or £2 converted. 

Overall, Moroccan hospitality and kindness is extremely prevalent within the culture. People are generally respectful, especially if you stand your ground. I believe that visiting Morocco should be cautioned with the same street-smarts that you would hold to value when visiting other countries, without too much extra precaution, but just with a lot of respect, which is highly honoured within the culture. Enjoy your trip to Morocco - bsha
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