When I first came to Morocco nearly four years ago, it was love at first sight. The weather was perfect, the people were friendly, the food was delicious, and every day was an adventure.
I thought my husband and I might stay long-term, to keep taking advantage of Morocco’s beautiful diversity of cultures. I was so much more in love with Morocco than any of my colleagues, most of which I thought would leave after a year or two. But as it turns out, my close friends from my first year will probably stay significantly longer than I will. Here’s why:
- There are not many job options outside teaching, which is not my career. I have also worked part-time in two NGOs, but both were pretty shockingly disorganized. I don’t think I ever attended a meeting that didn’t start at least an hour late.
- Getting a visa is a yearly challenge, especially for Africans. My first year, my employer did everything for me, so I never even knew how difficult it was. These past two years, I’ve had quite a bit of trouble renewing my visa due to unhelpfulness both from my new employer and from the staff at the prefecture. And my husband has been working for almost three years on a student visa because his employer doesn’t want to pay the fees for a foreigner’s contract.
- It’s just really hard to walk down the street. I’m lucky enough to be able to walk to work, but feel so much less lucky when men comment on my clothes or appearance, or especially when they try to follow me. It’s better when I walk with my husband, except on the occasions when people (men) yell racial slurs at us. And then there are the broken sidewalks….
- The rising culture of materialism is exhausting. Like any fast-developing country, Morocco has become more and more focused on material wealth. The thing to do on the weekends is to go shopping, and having a car has become a status symbol. I struggle to explain to my students that I don’t have a car because I like to walk, not because I can’t afford one, that I don’t eat at the most expensive restaurants because I actually like to cook, and that I want to become a social worker because I genuinely find that profession fascinating, not because I got rejected from programs in technology or finance. My idea of a good career is one that I find rewarding, not necessarily one that pays a lot of money.
There are things I love about Morocco too; the community I’ve found here, the opportunities I’ve had to meet new people and learn new languages, and the chance to experience another way of life. The ocean in Casablanca is beautiful, the vegetables are always fresh, and my husband and I have wonderful friends. But there’s a time for everything, and I really feel like it’s time to find a place to live with more trees than cars, even if it is somewhere with cold winters and no pomegranates.