What is culture shock? Culture shock is something we all experience when traveling. Especially when it is a country with a drastically different culture than your own. Culture shock is something that is different for everyone, but not always talked about. It can be thrilling and open your perspectives. This is the biggest reason that I really love travel, for the experiences.
As being an American, I don't have the same experience as someone who is from Europe or any other countries either. As Americans we usually only hear maybe Spanish or if you live in the city there will be other languages, however all of us can say as American this is a huge shock for us to be in a space where English is not spoken.
I was excited learning all of these phrases and thought I would be well prepared. Honestly, when I arrived I was intimidated to say the least. I froze and forgot all I learnt. I forgot how to say "no" which was very important. I couldn't remember the basic phrases.. and I felt defeated. I found myself comparing to the other students in my program who had better skills in French and Arabic. I learned the essential phrases like numbers 1-10, thank you and you're welcome, some foods, yes/no, and how to greet others.. I did what I was supposed to.
It was a totally intimidating experience and I just had to be positive and willing to learn. It started looking up for me when I changed my mindset.
If you want to see the full video all about my culture shock experience watch it here.
Facial expressions and body language
In Morocco they like other Arabs are expressive. They aren't afraid to be warm and express their feelings either. They tend to use big body movements when talking and it was intimidating to me. I wasn't used to it at all. And I found myself feeling just out of my element. It was the first time I had been traveling anywhere really and Morocco is much different from the West.
Moroccans greet everyone with hugs and kisses. This made me feel uncomfortable, because it was so expressive and I wasn't used to it. Moroccans use their hands a lot. And I mean a lot when they talk. Moroccan speak loudly and chat a lot. In this culture, it seems like everyone is an extrovert.
I was so intimidated to make friends and talk with people. I tend to be more shy, and all of the extroverted energy Moroccans were giving off was a lot. Moroccans love to talk with you and love to spend time in big groups when I would go on trips or just to socialize.
Traffic and crossing the street
I had to learn how to cross the street in Morocco. It was such a challenge at first. I was scared to cross the road when there were still cars coming or motorbikes around. The don't use the traffic lights really. I would say they just have an organized chaos to their traffic. To cross the road you have to find a small window and just bolt across. The cars will not stop for you and there are no crosswalks. You have to just look at all directions and go when there is a small opening.
Moroccan time is something I learned to love. That is that time is just time and there is no need to rush, ever!
I am known as being the late one to events. I hate being in a rush and I found that in Morocco that is how they feel too. Moroccan time is flexible and people never arrive on time to anything, unless it is a flight of course. But seriously, everything is no problem. You do not have to rush.
For my classes on the first day our professors arrived on time, but every time after that class always started about 15 minutes after what the schedule said. When I would go for tea, or hanging out with Moroccans, there always was a delay from the time we agreed upon meeting. They have a more flexible view of time. Even going to the doctors, arranged tests on the syllabus, train schedules and more are all just an estimate.
It might be a huge irritation to some, but to me I found it refreshing. Sure things are last minute and take slower. I found though that you can live more in the moment this way and just go with the flow more. Because of that I learned to embrace it more and embrace that part of me.
Tea time and siesta
The last one and the best one is tea time and siesta. Moroccans love to drink tea and they even have their own Moroccan mint tea.
Every time of the day is tea time if you ask a Moroccan. I loved it. They find any type of occasion to drink tea. I would find myself drinking this delicious tea sometimes three times a day. I would love to sit at a place with a terrace view of the sunset and chat for hours with friends and ordering tea and pastries.
I would have tea so many times during classes with my professors, being invited to tea with random people who would become new friends, and tea time with people in their homes.
Every time of the day is tea time. The actual tea time of the day though is after lunch. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Morocco and lunch is usually at around 1.00 pm. Lunch is a family occasion and it is still engrained in their culture to go home for lunch.
After lunch it is tea time. Tea time is meant to be a social hour if you will. It is spent eat more again and drinking tea. This is a time to chat and catch up with your loved ones. Tea time can go on for hours, but often will become nap time or siesta time.
Siesta time is similar to how the Spaniards do and have a nap time or a quiet time in the afternoon. It is meant to be a time where you can just relax, take a nap, and slow down. I absolutely loved this, because it reminded you to slow down and take time for yourself.
These were the top 5 things I experienced with culture shock when I first got to Morocco. I hope these helped you and are able to help prepare you for your Moroccan travels.
Peace, love, and, light.