My first few bouts of culture shock occurred Valentine’s Day weekend.
It started when I plugged in my nebulizer and it fried because of the voltage difference. AMIDEAST first sent me to a doctor (who only spoke French and Arabic). She simply listened to my chest and said to keep taking my medicine. She also gave me a card of where she “thought” I could purchase a new nebulizer. Her thoughts were incorrect. On that Friday I made an appointment with the lung-specialist. I never thought I’d be so happy to hear the words “lung specialist” and “speaks English” as much as I did. Getting there was a bit tricky as no one from AMIDEAST went with me. Granted, I’d like to think I’m becoming well-seasoned with the taxis in Morocco, but this drive was somewhat stressful. I told the driver the street and all of a sudden, he stopped and said, “safi?” (enough?). We were at the end of the street; I didn’t even know we were on the street because it was on a different side of town! SO I told him the number of the building and he had to drive the whole way around again, which cost me an additional 10 dirhams (dh). The only problem with this of course was I had borrowed $200 dh for the appointment from Diana and only had enough change for the cab (the 1st time around). The fact that I was 30 mins late for the appointment didn’t help either. I called the doctor’s office to say that I’d be late and my lack of French/Arabic clashed with the receptionist’s lack of English. When she put the doctor on the phone, he said, “I don’t speak English.” Since I was fed up with the last doctor not being helpful to me because of the language barrier, I shouted, “what?? You’re speaking English now!” He said, “I know, but I only know a little.” I was thinking, ugh, not again…. I also thought, what’s an asthmatic to do in Morocco besides go to the hospital?? People here do have asthma &/or allergies, right?? lol It was the 1st time I misses having the “luxury” of US healthcare….
Anyway, I got there OK, called & vented to my friend Hannah, then saw the doctor. He didn’t speak much English, but luckily, asthmatic terminology is keef-keef (the same). At first, as I was still flustered, I said that I just needed to know where to buy a nebulizer. He made a call for me and gave me the address to a local medical supply store. After hearing that I had pneumomediastinum in November, he insisted on checking my lungs with his stethoscope. He then wrote me a Rx for the equivalent of Prednisone & another for a personal nebulizer. He said that he will work on his English for me, should I have to return. He must have liked me (or felt sympathy for me) since I was $10 dh short of the $200 dh (because of the cab) when I had to pay for the visit afterward. I said my khem-do’Allahs (“thanks be to Allah”) like none-other after I left. Of course, I had to navigate my way home as I didn’t have money for a cab.
I stayed at Hannah’s that night- we chilled with her host family, ate couscous, and watched Aladdin. It was great! My 1st sleepover in Morocco…& we watched Aladdin! hahaha Talk about cliche! I definitely saw the movie in a totally different context since I’m in Morocco. I love how Disney movies are just as much for adults (with particular references) as for children.
The next day was Valentine’s day and I felt bad because I “stood up” (more or less) my Moroccan friend Azdine several times throughout the day. Hannah and I overslept & I ignored all of Azdine’s calls because I was so tired (even though I originally had got up at 8:30 AM, and as no one else was yet awake, I went back to sleep). Azdine wanted me to travel to Casablanca with him & his friends. Since I didn’t get to do that, I said I’d meet up with him in the evening…but that didn’t happen either. lol
Hannah & I had this “plan” to get our hair done, go out to dinner with the rest of the AMIDEAST crew, and then go out either to a party with some other students or to a club…
This is where my 2nd bout with culture shock occurred:
In a nutshell, the ATM ate my debit card. The irony is that my mom had just deposited money into my account the night before for my medicine & whatnot; since the bank was closed, I couldn’t go inside to try and retrieve my card. This seriously upset me mostly because no one around me understood me when I tried to tell them that my card was stuck in the machine. Hannah & my host-sister Lilia were with me when I “lost it.” Lilia even translated to all of the people in line that the ATM was broken, but one lady in particular had to try to jam her card into the ATM to figure it out herself. Meanwhile, I gave into impatience & had a “mini-fit” in the streets. I knew people were watching (& therefore knew I was American), but I didn’t care. When I went back inside to my apartment, my host Dad said I could get my card from the bank Monday morning.. but that if I didn’t get there early enough, the bank would send it to Casablanca… I thought, great, just what I wanted to hear.
Looking back at these incidents a couple weeks later, I realize things weren’t as bad as they seemed. I’m seeing the lung specialist regularly; I also got my debit card back. 🙂
I actually feel like this trip is changing me in so many ways, I can’t explain it. I find that with each trip abroad I learn more about myself- internally and, of course, culturally. I’m not sure what I want to do after my “graduation” in May, but I think I must travel (if I can afford it). This trip is helping me to see the “other” as I’ve never seen before. So much so that the line differentiating me from the “other” is diminishing…. how cool is that?