So, what are my pre-conceived notions of Morocco? The first thing I take note of when I observe humanity is what people wear and what their buildings look like. I’ve looked at a lot of pictures of Moroccan dress and architecture (both Amazigh and Arab). Some pictures are from the past, others from the present. Sometimes they match up, sometimes they don’t. In any pictures and videos I’ve seen of people in North Africa, it seems the overwhelming majority of people simply wear “western” clothing, but reworked into a unique style (especially with women, since the hijab has a myriad of different styles just by itself). This is something I observed when I visited Istanbul with my parents for a week, and I expect to see lots of jeans and polo shirts in Morocco, though they do seem to have retained some iconic features of their dress, most notably the djellaba (long, hooded unisex robe). I expect there to be some women wearing burqas, the niqab, etc., but I think they will be a minority, similar to Turkey. Sometimes it seems like western media paints all Muslim women as only ever being clothed in an all-black ensemble that completely covers every inch of skin, but I know this is not the case. As for the climate and natural scenery, from what I’ve gathered, it looks quite similar to summertime California.
Now, taking the visual aspects of a people aside and looking more at behavioral culture, I’ve heard about the hospitality of… well, pretty much any culture that is predominantly Muslim, to the point where it’s become a cliché. No matter where I look, I always seem to find remarks about the “legendary hospitality of the Moroccan people” (and you can easily exchange “Moroccan” for any other Muslim nation, and the cliché will still fit). Okay, I’ll expect my host family to be very hospitable, but honestly, is it really possible to sum up an entire nation like that? I’m sure many families in the U.S. would be considered to be hospitable to guests, but would I say that “the American people are legendary for their hospitality”? Doesn’t that just sound silly? Generalizing entire peoples like that seems a bit ridiculous to me.
I will say one of the main things I’m looking forward to learning is what daily life in a Moroccan household is like. It’s one of those things that can’t really be explained in a book (if one can even find a book or article that even mentions it), it has to be experienced. How do people eat? How do they interact? Even if I can’t speak the language, I’m excited to observe what life is like in the city of Fes.