I am going to Morocco to study Arabic and improve my French.
I am going to Africa to explore the world.
I am going to a Muslim country to abolish American fears.
I am going to a developing country to remind myself how lucky I am.
I am going to a country where women don’t have as many rights so I remember to take advantage of my freedom in America.
When I tell people that I’m studying abroad in Morocco, I’ve received all of these questions. Why are you going to Africa? Why a developing country? Aren’t you scared to go to a Muslim country? Where the people believe in the same religion as the terrorists? To a country where women’s freedom is repressed? To a country where they don’t have freedom of speech? To a country where the terrorists are so . . . close?
That was probably the best question someone asked me. Did I hear about the recent bombings in Afghanistan? It’s so close . . . wasn’t I scared? Well, I responded, Afghanistan is in Asia and Morocco’s in Africa. It’s over four thousand miles from Fes to Kabul. Nothing to worry about!
I hear scary things when friends, family, and the Internet tell me what they think I’ll experience in Morocco. It’s unsafe to be a woman in Morocco, it’s unsafe to be alone, and, according to some sources, I might get raped. It’s a bad idea to discuss my atheist, democratic, and feminist views, for I might get arrested. Some think I’ll have to wear skirts, headscarves, and long sleeves everywhere. Others just tell me not to wear too short of shorts or tank tops. I’ve been told that my long hair will attract lots of stares. I’m supposed to look out for extremists, rapists, men, monkeys, camels, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the sex slave trade. In other words, maybe I should just hide in my bedroom. Unless, of course, my host family hates Americans. Then I’ll have a real problem.
The stereotypes!!! So many stereotypes!!! First of all, the Taliban is not in Morocco. It’s unlikely that I’ll have a run-in with al-Qaeda or the sex slave trade. Contrary to some peoples’ beliefs, monkeys and camels in Morocco are not as common as the squirrels in Wisconsin. My host family probably wouldn’t offer their home to me if they hated Americans. And even though women do have to be on their guard in Morocco, it’s pretty unsafe to be a woman in downtown Madison at midnight, too. And my beautiful, long hair attracts stares no matter where I am.
I have a big goal to achieve during my study abroad trip, and through this blog I plan to achieve it. There are so many misconceptions and stereotypes that go along with Muslim countries, African countries, and third world countries. In this blog, I plan to not only record my daily experiences and adventures, but I will also concentrate on reporting events that either prove or disprove common stereotypes Americans have about Muslims, Africa, and developing countries. It makes me angry to hear so many Americans believe these horrible stereotypes! In this blog, I hope to prove that Moroccans are people too. I want to help prove that not all Muslims are terrorists, and instead show what lovely people they are.