So I wrote an entire post last time, but apparently it didn't show up on my blog. Oh well
So we made it safe to Rabat first. All us Fulbrighters (17 including visiting professors) stayed in a nice hotel near the center of the city. For 3 days we had orientation sessions and little mini lectures on various topics regarding Morocco (Islam, politics, Human rights, Ramadan, etc). Former Fulbrighters in the country spoke to us about life here, and frankly, it was overwhelming. There is SO MUCH I want to do here! Each night we had Iftar (Breaking of the Fast) dinner at the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange. I'll have to describe Iftar more later. After a day of fasting, it is truly an event.
Last night, we had Iftar dinner at the Ambassador's residence in Rabat. Wow. The house is a huge art deco compound with furniture that has seen the arrival and departure of many American diplomats. There's even a giant trampoline and see-saw in the back yard. I got to chat with various State Department officials and Moroccan governement officials and former Fulbrighters, and needless to say, the meal was extravagant. At one point in the night, I just looked around at all the well-laid-out tables on the lawn, glasses sparkling in the moonlight and waiters with white gloves carrying trays of pastries, kebabs, sauces, mint tea..... I stepped back and listened to all the conversations about foreign policy, Moroccan human rights, Jewish communities in Morocco, and Ivy League schools. I was fully present to the warm breeze on my face and the laughter surrounding me. It was a trip. I thought, "What if this was my life? Oh wait, I guess it is now."
It's not like I'll be having State Department galas every night. In fact, I am about to meet my Moroccan host family, with whom I'll be living for (hopefully) the next 5 months. But, I am supposed to "represent" the United States of America, policies and all. I am supposed to learn 2 different types of Arabic well. I am supposed to produce research that is meaninful. Most of all, I am supposed to set up a life for myself here.
But at the moment, I'm just overwhelmed with the prospects of buying a cell phone, finding shampoo, explaining my Celiac Disease to my host family,getting a residence card before I leave the country, finding a place to exercise...and basically finding friends and family to find my own.
What a grand adventure!