A “koofi” look at Arabic
Early morning runs around the Medina are my newfound hobby. A few people from my group and I wake up at 6 a.m. before our 9 a.m. class to run around Old Medina. They have to be one of the most refreshing things to do, and 2.5 miles around the Old Medina while looking at the Moroccan environment is definitely a sight to see.
Along with the hundreds of cats I see on my run, I’ve also greeted the guards who are at their posts around the walls of Old Medina. They are definitely not used to seeing four Americans running around the medina every morning. But as usual, they cheerfully respond to my morning greeting of SabaaH Al-khair.
It’s been another tough week of fusHa and darija classes. However, I believe I grasped the most information from this past week and a lot of the grammar constructions are making more sense to me. The four hours of class a day, plus the additional three to four hours of homework and studying is really paying off. I am seeing myself improve dramatically, and although I am not quite sure I will become exactly fluent, my skills are still increasing.
Since I had a whole year off from Arabic at BU, I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing Arabic every day as much as I would have liked. Unfortunately, my loaded schedule of 18 credits last semester didn’t allow too much breathing room for Arabic besides tutoring sessions here and there. I still loved Arabic, but I felt as if my skills were slowly deteriorating. This study abroad program allowed me to dive back into Arabic intensively and I have not been happier.
The submersion program here in Morocco has led me to even more seriously consider going for my master’s degree in Arabic and other post-graduate options to continue my education. For those students on the fence of wanting to participate in a study abroad program, especially for a language, I highly recommend it. It not only encourages you to use and study the language every day, but it is also a wildly invigorating experience that teaches you so much more than just the language itself.
This was the most anticipated event for me all week. I’ve always been interested in learning about calligraphy, but never seemed to have the time. When I saw this workshop on our itinerary from the NCUSAR, I was ecstatic!
Our Ustadth for the workshop was fluent in many different types of calligraphy as you can see in the picture with the various font styles. The red front is referred to as “koofi” and is the oldest form of Arabic calligraphy and sometimes can be found etched into the older buildings of Morocco. Our calligraphy Ustadth wrote our names in the first two types of calligraphy on pieces of paper, and we did our best to copy them to the best of our ability using special calligraphy styli markers with slated tips in order to make the necessary curves of the Arabic letters. Ustadth was very pleased with how I wrote my name using the first style. Definitely considering picking this up as a hobby!
Day trip to Asilah
My group and I recently made a last minute decision to join another groups’ day trip to the town of Asilah, which is located on the northwest tip of the Atlantic coast of Morocco and about 19 miles from Tangier.
During our four-hour bus ride, we passed many rolling hills and fields of crops and livestock. One of the more memorable sights was the countless fields of sunflowers. Unfortunately, I didn’t snap that good of a picture, but it was incredible to see.
I wouldn't think to see sunflowers here. Our bus driver (and I'm assuming most Moroccans) are very b`old drivers in that during our entire bus ride, we were swerving in and out of lanes and passing cars and trying not to hit pedestrians on bikes. We probably passed about 50 other cars and buses during the round trip. It’s all a part of the cultural experience, right?
When we arrived at Asilah, we had about two hours to check out the town and grab some lunch. The rest of our time was dedicated to the beach. As we were walking in the town alongside the Atlantic, we came to small pier that stretched over the water where we stopped to capture a few pictures.
Although I did not get a chance to ride one, I was able to see them walking and grunting up and down the beach a number of times. My group and I are planning a Western Sahara trek in two weeks, which will most likely involve riding camels so I’ll have to wait till then to ride one.
Ustadth Hassan has joined us one almost every Moroccan excursion we’ve had so far. He is an outstanding professor and has become a very good friend here in Meknes, always setting aside his time to help me if I’m struggling with Arabic. I am very grateful to have such a caring instructor and friend because it really does make a difference in and outside the classroom.
Next weekend, the NCUSAR has planned a trip to Chefchaouen, a northwest Moroccan city situated in the Rif Mountains, just inland from Tangier. I hope to tell exciting stories from that trip!
Until then, bislama, and tahla frasik! (Take care of your head!)
— Michael Curry, junior digital forensics major, Middle East studies and criminal justice minor