Tagine Dreams

My adventures with food and knitting in Morocco

Moving Notice (Yet Again!)
In light of my new assignment to Ukraine instead of Morocco (meaning no tagines, sadly) and in light of livejournal irritating me, I have yet another new blog. Don't worry; I will keep this one in spite of any further changes!


Did I say Morocco? I meant Ukraine!
I found out on Monday that the program I was assigned to in Morocco has been cancelled. I had the option to continue with plans to go to Morocco but work in the environmental education sector, or to choose another country to pursue the business development sector.  After talking with my placement officer, I will be going to Ukraine. This pushes my departure back to the end of March instead of the middle.

Now there are plenty of adjustments to make! I can stop feeling guilty for neglecting my Arabic studies, start brushing up on my Russian and change my blog name to reflect the new destination. Does anyone need a stack of travel/language/culture books for Morocco?

Beginning Packing List
After referencing several packing lists, I think I've come to some conclusions about what I plan to pack and what I still need to buy. Weather in Morocco varies from very hot to rather cold, so I need to be prepared for a little of everything! I'm putting in links and underlining the things I still need to buy, but this is more for my reference than a wishlist.

- 2 suitcases (need to buy 1)
- Duffel bag
- Laptop case/backpack
- Everyday bag

- Heavy/fleece jacket
- Light jacket
- 2 sweatshirts
- 2 sweatpants
- 2-3 leggings
- 3-4 long skirts
- 2-3 casual pants
- 2-3 jeans
- 3-4 long-sleeved shirts
- 2-3 sweaters
- 1 formal outfit (slacks, suit jacket, nice top)
- 2 workout outfits (shorts, short sleeved shirt, etc)
- Bathing suit
- 4-5 layering shirts (t-shirts, tank tops, etc)
- Scarf and gloves
- Warm base layer (long underwear)
- Lots of undergarments and socks, warm socks!

- 1 pair good sandals (Teva)
- 1 pair running shoes
- 1 pair hiking boots
- 1 pair office flats

- 2 sets of lightweight towels
- 1 lightweight warm blanket
- Leatherman
- Travel clock
- Clock/radio
- Duct tape
- Arabic-English dictionary
- Morocco books
- Chicago pictures/info
- Deck of cards
- Light sleeping bag
- Sheets
- Yoga mat
- Resistance bands for exercise
- Journals and planner
- Books
- Knitting supplies (needles, crochet hooks, tapestry needles, yarn,
pattern and technique books)
- Basic office supplies (lots of pens!)
- Flashlight
- Wet wipes
- Korean instant coffee

- Razors
- Basic makeup
- Lip balm and lip gloss (knowing me, about 10 kinds)
- Spare glasses and eyeglass repair kit
- Sanitary products
- Prescription and basic medicine (allergy pills, ibuprofen, Rolaids, benedryl)
- 2 year supply of toothbrushes and toothpaste! (I have gum issues, so
I need to have soft toothbrushes and anti-sensitivity toothpaste. I
don’t want to try to rely on finding those there! When in doubt for a care package, send me Sensodyne.)

- Laptop
- External drive
- 3-4 flash drives
- Adapter
- Good surge protector
- Camera and extra memory stick
- iPod

Language Learning
I still have four months to go before I leave for Morocco, but I'm keeping the nerves from setting in by practicing the language. Moroccans mostly speak a specific dialect of Arabic, called darija. Some also speak French or Spanish, and there are areas where the Berber languages are more common.

I have some darija mp3 language lessons provided by the Peace Corps to give me a head start, and I also picked up a workbook to help me learn the written alphabet. I concentrate best while I'm physically active, so I've been having good success so far in going through the audio lessons while I'm exercising. I'm sure I seem crazy to the people around me by muttering to myself, but it's the price I pay!


Age Oddity
One odd thing about my situation going in to the Peace Corps is my age. Most volunteers are right out of college and are somewhere in their 20s. There's also some that are near retirement. Generally they don't get many volunteers that are in the middle of their careers, and there aren't going to be many, if any, that are within 10 years of my 35 in either direction.

While having all of my colleagues at different levels of their lives can provide some challenges in relating, my age also gives me quite a bit of advantage. When I studied in Europe during college the internet wasn't prominent and no one had cell phones, so I had the experience of being away from home for a full year without consistent communication with friends and family at home. People younger than me have experienced most of their lives with communication being simple and ubiquitous, and I think that would provide a bit more challenge.

I've also had more job experience that will help me in my projects. And some of that experience will definitely help me in adjusting. I worked for two years for an office of a foreign government, and was the only person at the office not of that origin. While I was still living in the US, it was like going to work in a foreign country every day. I learned how to adjust to the language and cultural differences while still being who I am. While it's not 100% immersion, it definitely made a difference.

DIY Foreign Aid
At work today, I noticed the cover story of the New York Times Magazine was very relevant to my life right now.
DIY Foreign Aid
I've given money to charity in the past, and I'm sure I will continue to in the future, but I have felt compelled to give in a more personal way. The Peace Corps is a great option for me. There is some structure and support (I'm not quite as bold as the women in this article!) but still a lot of my own initiative and independence. I will get a chance to help people to the best of my knowledge and abilities, plus I get the side benefits of international travel and a great item on my resume. I'm excited that I will finally have this opportunity!

 Welcome to my new journal! I recently received my invitation to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, and that rates a new journal for my new adventure.

I'm still absorbing the news and trying to get my thoughts together. I don't leave until March next year, so I have plenty of time to go about my shopping and preparations. For now I'm focusing on gathering some basic information, like culture, language, weather, etc.

A great information source about the Peace Corps experience is Peace Corps Wiki. I relied on this site quite a bit throughout the application process, and I know it's going to be my best friend as departure gets closer!


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