- There is no reason to be embarrassed about making mistakes. When I was learning French, I felt like it was like riding a roller coaster because I would get so emotional about successes and failures. It might be easy to worry whether my fellow students like me or think I’m smart, but it is more important for me to practice speaking Spanish than to not say something stupid in front of a group of people I don’t know that well.
- Motivation is perhaps the most important factor in language learning. Learning a new language takes time, so it is crucial to be dedicated and to put in time studying, listening to music, reading, and reviewing. Three hours a week of class isn’t enough for anyone to learn a language, so it is really up to the student to learn or not.
- Personally, I study best alone. I think everyone needs to find how they learn best, and I make the most progress reading and doing exercises by myself. I love to read, so finding books I like makes a huge difference for me.
- You don’t need to find a special method or spend a lot of money to learn a language. I find that one of the best ways to practice is just to try to describe a situation in my head in Spanish while I’m walking to work. For example, I’ll imagine that my teacher might ask me what I did last weekend, and I’ll go through my answer in my head. Once I get a chance, I’ll look up whichever words I wanted to use but didn’t know. This is a good way to expand useful vocabulary.
- Finally, language learning is a lot of fun. Once I got to the point in French where I was no longer translating in my head but instead was just coming up with what I wanted to say, it started to be so much fun to speak in French. Once I realized that I could read novels or watch movies in French and enjoy them, a new world of culture, literature, film, and friendships opened up to me. I can’t wait to have the same experience with Spanish!
As you know if you have been following my blog, my big sister is the best. Not just among all of my sisters, but probably among all sisters everywhere. Just a few weeks ago, my husband and I got to spend a long weekend with my her in Marrakech. Not only did we go swimming every day, do yoga on our balcony, and spend some quality sister time together, we also took hundreds of photos documenting our sisterhood.
My sister is now really good at yoga, so we were more creative with our sister photos this time than usual.
Not all photos were a success, but we came out with some great ones in the end!
My Best Sister now lives in the U.S., and is quite happy being there. My husband and I are planning to move to Boston next fall, where I’ll do my masters. Thanks to my sister we are excited about things like seeing my family regularly, living somewhere with more trees than cars, and eating yams and black beans. And of course, having much more regular Best Sister time.
A while ago, I wrote a list of things I wish more Americans knew about Morocco. Here’s the complementary post; what I wish more Moroccans knew about their own country.
- There are a lot of foreigners. There are not just French expats, but Americans, Africans, Asians, and other Europeans. And not all of them are rich, contrary to popular opinion.
- It is incredibly difficult for those foreigners to get visas. My explanations of what I have to go through to renew my residency are met by surprised looks from Moroccans, and knowing nods from other foreigners. I heard that the majority of French expats in Morocco just don’t bother getting visas, and leave every few months in order to continue living on a tourist visa.
- There is a big Christian presence in Morocco. There are churches in every major city, and there are several different denominations represented.
- It is much easier and much more useful to learn French than to learn Arabic. I came to Morocco with the intention of learning more Arabic, but ended up learning French out of necessity. Speaking French has allowed me to make friends, communicate with others, and be a better English teacher.
- It is not dangerous to walk by yourself in Casablanca. I walk to work every day, and have never felt unsafe (although I do often get annoyed by the traffic and by men). I am occasionally told that I should not walk, but I think it’s actually safer than putting my life in the hands of an impatient taxi driver.
- There are a lot of wonderful things that Morocco has that the United States does NOT have. For example, vacation homes for big companies, maternity leave and generous vacation day policies, cheap organic produce, and cleaning ladies who will clean your apartment once a week for a small price. Which explains my first point, that there are a lot of foreigners.
Thankfully our photographers took hundreds of pictures, because some ended up a little silly. Here are the highlights.
When I asked the photographer if he could take a picture of our rings, this classic pose is what he came up with:
After all of those photos, I started to get tired. My sister helped me out by taking this fish-face photo, which allowed me to stretch my smiling muscles. But it didn’t give me quite enough energy to jump for the next photo!
My husband must have stronger face muscles than I do, but his feet were really starting to hurt. Luckily, the fact of taking his shoes off provided new photo opportunities.
After the embassy wedding, we took some photos by the mausoleum in Rabat. The unfinished pillars seem to be made for wedding photos.
But the main reason why are photos came out so well is that we practiced a lot beforehand, anywhere we could.
After all those posts about my fiancé and about wedding preparations, it looks like I completely abandoned my blog during the actual wedding. Better late than never!
We got legally married first, at the Central African Embassy. This step was very informative because Chancellor read all of the laws concerning marriage in the Central African Republic at the beginning of the ceremony. We learned that if my husband and I want to move, he must choose the house. If he is unable choose the house, I may do so. If neither of us can, our children may choose. And if even the children are unable to choose a house, the dog may be permitted to do so. Luckily, the “livret de famille” includes space for the names of ten children, so probably at least one of our ten future kids will be decisive enough to choose where we should live.
The next day, we got married in our church.
For this part, we wore traditional wedding clothes. The pastor who had first introduced us was the one who married us, and she gave a wonderful sermon about how our relationship had grown. Afterward, we went home to change into our party outfits for the soirée.
We vowed to always match our outfits, among other things.
We then rode our motorcycle off into the night, finding ourselves in sunny Oualidia the next day (just kidding, we took the bus).
The benefit of writing this post almost a year late is that I can confirm that we still love each other! And if you could see what I was wearing in the above photo, it did in fact match what my husband was wearing. We were serious about those vows.