I arrived at Mohammad V airport in Casablanca around 9:30 am after an eight hour flight from Montreal. Despite the fact that I only had a total of 2 hours of sleep, I was excited to finally reach Morocco. I first applied to study abroad in March, now it seemed like a sort of twilight, a dream that I had to continually pinch myself in order to make sure that I actually made it to Morocco. I got off the plane onto the landing strip and entered an airport shuttle that took the passengers to the main airport. The shuttle took a small stretch of road that led parallel to the main airport and dropped us off at the customs checkpoint. It took forever to get through customs, but honestly I didn’t care, in fact I was too dazed to care. After I claimed my luggage I went into the welcoming area relieved to see other Americans. The usual fluff was exchanged: “what’s your major”, “where are you from”, and “why did you chose Morocco” (essentially that’s how every conversation went). After everyone arrived and gathered at the ISA checkpoint we headed towards the bus to take us to the heart of Casablanca.
We arrived at our hotel, all exhausted. For the next 5 hours or so I was busy exploring Morocco’s economic capital; however a quick observation of the city would make you think otherwise, to me the infrastructure was lacking and the city, for all the hype it gets, isn’t that appealing (but don’t let my opinion change yours by all means). It was strange to see signs in French and Arabic; I really felt lost and confused at some points, but getting lost is one points of traveling isn’t it? After getting lost I, along with a couple other acquaintances, looked around in shops and even ordered some Moroccan tea at a small café. I noticed a couple of intriguing aspects right away while I was exploring Casablanca. One, there are numerous stray cats roaming the streets (I think my sister would love this), they are everywhere. Two, I did not realize how prevalent French is within Moroccan society; for example, whenever I spoke to a Moroccan on the street or in a shop, they would always speak to me in French which I find very interesting. Three, I already, in a way, knew this aspect of Morocco, but it’s the dominance of the religion of Islam. Unlike in the United States, religion is integrated into the very fabric of every Moroccan’s (well… at least 99% of Moroccans) everyday life with the 5 daily calls to prayer and minarets and mosques virtually on every corner. Fourth, life in Morocco (at least in Casablanca) is very slow and steady, no rush to go anywhere and sense of urgency from anyone. I think the Moroccans know how to live, no stress. Finally, the traffic is essentially organized chaos with pedestrians weaving in and out of oncoming cars. Our director said jokingly that every Moroccan gets hit by a vehicle at least once in their lives…I wouldn’t doubt. Next on the itinerary for my little adventure in Morocco is Marrakesh, Morocco’s hottest tourist attraction.