Living in Rabat | #4

Living in Rabat for the past few weeks has proven to be very different from Michigan. I am eternally grateful for the hospitality that my host-family has provided me, particularly the fact that they make spaghetti at least once a week because I once told them that I have a love for pasta. However, the 4 of us (my host mom, dad, sister, and I) all share a very small 1-bedroom apartment built on the roof of a building that looks like it could fall down any moment. The lack of privacy and personal space was a difficult adjustment, but I soon found out this was rather characteristic of all homes situated in the Medina of Rabat. Our apartment becomes slightly smaller when accounting for the plethora of insects that have taken residence in the house as well (always a fun surprise to find a colony of ants mixed in with your dinner), but some things are outside of my control.


The worst adjustment was undoubtedly the shower situation. The shower-head in our apartment is located directly above the toilet, which means you must awkwardly straddle the toilet every time you want to get clean (kind of contradictory, right?). Upon arriving in Morocco, I was told that most people only shower once a week, so doing my best to adjust to Moroccan culture I lasted a full six days before showering. I’m not sure what kind of body odor was emanating by the sixth day, but I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant. Several weeks later, I was informed that most Moroccans shower every day (or every other day)! I was relieved to know it was no longer necessary to withhold myself from showering but also embarrassed as I wondered if everyone thought of me as the girl with greasy hair and awful body odor. Once again, some things you can’t control.


Aside from my homestay, Rabat has been a very interesting place to live! It’s an old city situated along the Atlantic Ocean with winding streets and beautiful (albeit crumbling) buildings. The Medina is constantly filled with street vendors selling everything from vacuums to clothes to vegetables to raw fish. Rabat is the capital of Morocco, but it is only the third largest city and does not draw a lot of tourists like Marrakech, Fez, and Tangier do. There are not a lot of museums or historical sites to visit in Rabat, so it’s easy to see the majority of the city in just 1 day. For this reason, Rabat is not a city I have a strong desire to return to as a tourist, but I would recommend it to others as a day-trip.

2 thoughts on “Living in Rabat | #4

  • May 26, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Wow! This really puts into perspective how the constructed “norms” of different cultures can be so varying. This definitely seems like a culture shock, but also like a once in a lifetime experience to be so immersed in a culture totally different from our own. Hope you’re enjoying it!

  • May 26, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Ellie, I really appreciate your honest and descriptive reflection. Oftentimes when I am somewhere new, it takes me arriving and trying to adapt to really understand how much I am impacted by my physical surroundings (massive door-sized spiderwebs, poisonous snakes, toilet/shower combos, etc.). It’s wonderful that your host family opened up their limited space to a complete stranger, and having familiar food is so helpful towards feeling at home. Safe travels home!


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