Moroccan Culture: Where Time is Not of the Essence

Moroccan Culture

foreign-correspondent badge finalOne of the inevitable experiences you will have while studying abroad is getting sick. Depending on where you are studying abroad, your sickness may range from the common cold, to stomach issues, to malaria. Luckily for me, there is no risk of getting malaria in Morocco. However, I have had my share of other illnesses this semester, many of which have given me first-hand experience with the Moroccan medical system.

Most recently, I had to get tested for a UT infection. Dealing with medical logistics in a foreign country is difficult, especially when you don’t know the language. Not only is the system different, but it can be difficult to communicate what you need, and difficult to understand the directions for your medication. Luckily for me, I had someone from my program helping me out with the translation issue. This helped, but I still experienced cultural differences.

According to the person from my program, the staff at the bio lab said I could bring back my sample “in a little time–the same day is good.” However, when I returned the next day with my sample, the staff informed me, in French–which luckily I can understand fairly well–and after much discussion between them, that the sample had to be brought within an hour of being taken.

I realized that what I was previously told was an example of a Moroccanism, in which time is not necessarily always precise. That’s just an aspect of Moroccan culture, which is experienced frequently, from making appointments with friends to estimating commute times.

Moroccans often follow time estimates with the phrase “inshallah.” The same phrase is also used when referring to future events and can mean “yes,” “no” or “maybe” depending on the circumstance. The translation for “inshallah” is “God willing,” which is one of the many examples of how Islam is present in all aspects of life in Morocco.

Remember, it’s inevitable that cultural differences will pop up when you least expect it, but just go with the flow. It’s all part of the experience!

Photo-Credit: Stephanie Pettit

About Virginia Cady

Virginia CadyVirginia Cady studies international studies and Middle Eastern studies at Dickinson College. She is currently studying abroad in Rabat, Morocco.

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