UGA-Morocco Summer Program Orientation Guide
by Michael Fitzgerald (Director, CLC
and Alan Godlas and Kenneth Honerkamp, UGA Department of Relgion
This is what
It is for
this reason that we’ve assembled --- in the order you might need it --- the
information below. But whether your questions about
A lot of the things mentioned below concern trouble-shooting. Much of it you could probably find if you spent enough time on-line researching every question. Hopefully, this guide might save you some time.
You’ll be visiting Marrakesh as spring is changing to summer, so you can expect some beautiful weather, perhaps some cool nights, lots of sunshine, and (sorry) some real heat. (See Climate below). Because this variation, layered – ideally cotton ----clothes will serve you best.
1. a week’s worth of underwear (and socks if you wear them)
2. loose-fitting short-sleeve shirts / blouses (or long-sleeved if your skin is sensitive to sun)
3. loose-fitting pants
4. if you normally wear shorts, they should be below the knee
5. a sun hat
6. sunglasses if you normally wear them
7. a swimming suit if you plan to swim
8. a sweater for the night you spend in the desert.
9. good walking shoes or walking sandals (Flip-flops are definitely NOT advised for walking around the medina or out on field trips since the ground is often uneven, flip-flops can cause you to trip, and your stubbed toe will have to deal with a whole new range of microbes it’s never met before! We don’t want anyone disabled with an infected foot.)
10. women should have a scarf for possible visits inside sacred shrines
Other clothes will be discussed by your group advisors.
For some clothes that are not recommended, see the cultural entry on Dress (click here) and also this photo gallery by a British woman, “What not to wear in Marrakech.” http://www.wanderlust.co.uk/gallery.php?gal_id=390
If you take
a prescription medicine, it’s best if you don’t have to re-fill your
prescription while in
If you wear glasses, you might consider bringing an extra pair.
If you wear contact lens and can carry enough of the solution for your stay, it’s better than paying twice as much for it here.
disposable contacts are not sold in
A few common
non-prescription drugs in
Bring sun-screen. It’s sold here, but costs more than in the States.
Also, we prefer that all visiting students bring some kind of water bottle that is re-useable to cut down on the plastic waste generated by the program.
can be used to make withdrawals (in dirhams) in
bring such a card, double check that it is working before leaving the States.
Replacing a damaged ATM card from
need to worry about getting dirhams in advance before coming to
Before you leave the States, you should make a copy of the information pages of your passport and plastify them (which you can do at Kinkos).
Also, you should write down all your travellers checks numbers (and, in a confidential location, your credit card number) names, and contact information for each card, in case they are lost. Needless to say this information should not be kept in your wallet!
health care in
you’re most likely to encounter in
consequence of any change in diet and water flora. The best remedy for this is
simply to let it run its course: change your diet to plain rice, and avoid
fresh fruit and raw vegetables. In more
severe cases, the best remedy is either Imodium (sold in the
Foods to avoid (at least at first!)
Many stomach problems can be avoided by staying away from certain foods, especially in your first couple of months in the country, and especially in hot weather. Among them:
1. Outdoor food stands in general. These places do not have hot water (or any connection to running water, for that matter). The stands set up in the Jama el Fna (see map at the end) every evening offer really beautiful, delicious-smelling food are very tempting, especially when you see them crowded with tourists and Moroccans alike.
2. Anywhere selling freshly-squeezed orange juice, either in the Jama el Fna or in a cafe. Nevertheless, Morocco has wonderful citrus fruit and you can buy very good bottled orange juice and other juices in the central market or even buy oranges and squeeze your own at home;
3. Soft drinks in cafes and cheap restaurants are best drunk straight from the bottle, and certainly not from the freshly “rinsed”, still- wet glass often set down on the table with you bottle of Coke. Hot drinks such as coffee or tea; however; are served very hot (coffee is steamed in the glass) and shouldn’t present a problem
4. Raw fruits and vegetables (especially lettuce) that can’t be peeled: this includes salads in inexpensive restaurants (and initially even in expensive restaurants) At home, it is advisable to soak raw vegetables in a solution of permanganate (available in small bottles in Pharmacies),
5. Pastries with cream filling
6. Ice cream (in cones) from street vendors or doubtful-looking glaciers (ice-cream shops).
Commercially-produced ice cream in cartons and bars is sold in many places and is generally safe.
This preceding list is not meant to make you paranoid - Moroccan food is really delicious and for The most part, Moroccans eat a healthy diet: warm, freshly-baked bread available twice a day at the corner grocery stand is a luxury you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere in America.
Tap water in
pressure-activated hot-water heaters and many portable room heaters in
The sun in
If you or someone you’re with ever feel the symptoms of heat stroke coming on, the best response is
1. get out of the sun
2. lie down, if possible, and remove any extra clothes (socks, for example)
3. apply a cloth dipped in room-temperature water to the forehead and back of neck
4. begin to slowly sip some room-temperature water
5. if available, take in some salt or salty food
There are no
mandatory vaccinations for
If you feel you’re coming down with something, please don’t hesitate to talk to your professors or anyone in office of the CLC.
In many cases, a pharmacist will be able to recommend a medicine for what ails you, saving you a wait in the doctor’s office. Business hours for pharmacies are typically from to in the mornings and in the evenings. Most pharmacies close on Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, but a few throughout the city stay open for emergencies. These pharmacies de garde are selected on a rotating basis and their locations and phone numbers are posted on the doors of all pharmacies.
pharmacy to the CLC is Pharmacie Nakhil, 11:
There are two pharmacies that open at and stay open all night. One is in the
Gueliz, about 5 minutes from the CLC, near the fire station on Rue Khalid bin Oualid, Ph: 0524 43-42-75 [see map below, follow Rue Khalid b. Oualid from the CLC down to the Caserne Sapeurs Pompiers. The pharmaceutical depot is next door, and it does not look like a pharmacy!]. The other is in the Jmaa’l-fna, near the main police station (see larger map). Ph: 0524 39-02-38 ,
also a number of modern, privately-run clinics and hospitals in
du Sud, Rue Ibn Aicha (0524 447 619, 0524 447 999), has a long standing reputation
for good care in
Both of these are within walking distance of the CLC.
The following doctors and dentists are recommended should serious health or dental problems arise. If you need an interpreter (they all speak French and Arabic) or additional information, contact the administration.
General Practitioner: Gertrud Michaelis, 7 Rue Ibn Sina, Ph: 0524 44-83-43 (Speaks English, German, French and Moroccan Arabic)
Gynecologist: Claire B. Azzouzi, 5 Rue Sourya, Ph: 0524 43-44-46
Gastroenterologist: Abdeslam El Karouani, 48 Rue de la Liberte, Ph: 0524 43-26-82 (Speaks Spanish)
A kind of
general rule about the cost of things in
So, 1 DH = 20 Riyals = 100 Francs; and 100 DH = 2000 Riyals =10,000 Francs.
Or, in 1 DH = waahid dirham = ‘ashreen d’ryaal = miyat franc; 100 = miyat dirham = alfayn d’riyaal = ‘ashra alef franc.
In your Moroccan Arabic course, you will learn how to negotiate in these potentially confusing denominations (and also how to ask that a price simply be quoted to you in dirhams).
keep in mind that the dirham is not considered a hard currency outside
Exchange rates between, for example, dollars and dirhams, vary slightly from week to week, with the new rates posted on Monday. The on-line rate of exchange which can be found at such sites as http://www.xe.com/ucc/ is usually a few centimes higher than the rate found in Moroccan banks. Also note that there is one rate at which the bank buys foreign currency for dirhams and another (higher rate) at which it sells it.
Please note that the CLC is not able to exchange foreign currency.
The nearest banks to the CLC are the SGMB bank (see map below—at the corner of R. Khalid b. Oualid and Avenue Yacoub el Mansour) and AWB bank attached to Acima supermarket (see upper right hand side of map) Both these are less than 5 minutes on foot from the CLC and both have ATM machines.
other banks can be found on or near
the only way a traveler could get money quickly from abroad would be by
electronic items that students or teachers might bring with them to
If you plan
to bring something that is not dual-voltage, converters of varying capacities
and prices are sold in
the wall-plugs in
All current in Morocco is 50 cycles per second whereas in the US it is 60, meaning that any US appliance which heats up (coffee makers, hair dryers, heaters, heating pads, electric blankets, iron) will not reach its full heat in Morocco. If you have a hair dryer, for example, that you plan on bringing or a travel iron, check the appliance’s voltage tab. If it says 50/60 cycles then it will work here. If not, not.
come with AC/DC transformer designed to run on voltage ranging from 110 to 240.
The only things that might be needed in
The CLC has a 13-station computer lab and is covered by WiFi.
Offices: The central post office of the new town of
Note: there is no postcard rate, postage being based on weight.
these have offices (right next to each other, in fact) in
You may make
calls from téléboutiques (small shops with pay phones and sometimes photocopy
machines and fax services) using either a phone card or change. The phone cards which téléboutiques sell can
only be used in teleboutiques run by the same company. Some international
calling cards, including MCI, AT&T, and British Telecom, have a direct
calling service from
Do NOT make any form of long distance call from your homestay phone. In any emergency, call the Center for Language and Culture. Read the Emergency Packet information for more information (before the emergency). In cases of extreme emergency collect calls can be placed through a private phone line by dialing 12 for the operator and AT&T or other calling cards.
Note: as in
the States and
The prime, full-rate time is Monday - Friday, . All other times are minus 50% on long-distance calls inside the country and minus 20% on international calls .
international calls, dial “00”, then dial the appropriate country code , then
the number. (Country code:
orientation, a $25 deposit for a loaned Moroccan cell phone and cell phone
charger (belonging to CLC) will be collected from each student. You will be given your cell phone the day
after we arrive when we meet as a group the first time at the CLC. If you lose or damage your cell phone and/or
charger, you will forfeit your deposit. There will a small number of minutes on the
phones, but you will need to purchase Moroccan phone cards, the cheapest of
which cost 50 dh. The cost of local calls on these Moroccan phones is
reasonable. Unlike prepaid phones in the
instructions about how to do this. The CLC number from the
happen to own an unlocked phone (one in which you can use any SIM card you
want), then you can purchase package containing a SIM card that will work in
The CLC computer lab has 13 stations, a printer and scanner for your use. In addition the lab, several classrooms, and most of the area just outside the CLC are all covered by WiFi.
One of the best solutions for long distance calling is Skype www.skype.com.
Skype is a
piece of free downloadable software that allows you to make internet calls
either for free or at a very low rate to anywhere in the world. If your
correspondent also has Skype (so, Skype-to-Skype call) the call is free. If
not, or if you want to be able to call a fixed phone number, you need to set up
a Skype paid account BEFORE you leave for
City Buses stop at the main Guéliz stop  and are quite reliable. However the buses can be absolutely packed on some of the principle routes during peak hours. Buses run from to between and in the evening; fares for routes within the city are 3DH while the fare for those running outside city limits is slightly higher. NOTE: Crowded city buses in which passengers sometimes have to ride standing up can be venues for pickpockets.
Petit Taxis are the small yellow city taxis with roof
racks. They are abundant and relatively inexpensive (about 8 DH from the CLC to
the Jamalfna) and plentiful in the Ville Nouvelle. There is rarely any
difficulty flagging down a taxi, and they can be found at all hours at
different taxi stands. Note that the presence of a passenger in a taxi does not
necessarily mean that the taxi is “taken”; one taxi may take up to three
separate passengers, picking them up along the way if their destinations aren’t
too out of the way. If you get into an already-occupied taxi, note the amount
on the meter as you get in. Your fare should be the amount elapsed from getting
into the taxi plus the initial charge of 1.4 Dh. Drivers in
Taxi drivers work long hours for very little pay, so a small tip is always appreciated. For example, if the fare were 8 dh, a 2 dh tip, totaling 10 dh, would be quite fair.
Grand Taxis have routes within the city. Cost is about 5DH per seat. (See also here)
are horse-drawn coaches. They are of two kinds: those that work by the hour for
tourists and those which follow fixed routes around the
is also great. It is literally possible to walk from one end of the main city
There are two recommended bus companies traveling in and out of
Supratours and CTM (the Moroccan Greyhound). Supratours travels only to the south of
If CTM and Supratours buses do not fit your schedule, try the major bus station near Bab Doukala . Many small bus companies operate out of this station and although their buses are older, not as comfortable, and slower, you can almost be assured of a bus headed in the right direction at any time of the day or night. Also, they serve smaller out-of-the-way locations and are cheaper than CTM or Supratours. CTM buses also leave from this station before they pick up in Gueliz (window #l0, Ph: 524- 43-44-02).
Tickets can be purchased up to five days in advance. Purchasing tickets early for CTM or Supratours trips is advised if you’ll be traveling on the weekend or during holidays. Expect to have to pay an additional 5 to 15 DH for luggage. Be sure to arrive at the bus station 15-20 minutes before scheduled departure. The baggage handler will expect a two-dirham tip.
A rail network of about 2,500 kms. links
in all the major cities are being renovated, and the trains themselves in some
places are little better than in the past, but still quite a ways from trains
first class tickets (with assigned compartments and seats) and second-class
(take your changes and maybe even stand up). The difference in price to
also regular between Casablanca’s international airport and Casablanca’s two
main train stations with regular 20 - 30 minute trips in either direction every
hour or so.) The train station in
Grand Taxis are
shared Mercedes taxis, and cost about 20% - 50% more than a bus on the same
route, they are worth considering. If there are enough in your party to fill
one taxi (6 passengers or the equivalent in fares) you can ask the driver to
make stops to take photographs. It’s always best to settle on a price before
you go. Note that sharing a car with 5 other passengers can be very cramped.
Some people like to pay for two seats to assure a comfortable ride. Make sure
you know what locals are paying for a particular trip as grand taxi drivers are
notorious for jacking up the fare for unsuspecting foreigners. In general, you
can count on paying 7-10 DH for every thirty km. Stations for grand taxis are
Rental Cars and Driving in
discourage you from driving in
Rental agencies in Gueliz include:
two main movie theaters in
Institut Francais de Marrakech (The
ESAV (Ecole Supérieur des arts visuels) of Marrakech is a school built on an American model specializing in film, graphic arts, sound recording, etc. ESAV has regular showings of films in their original languages --- in most cases, English--- which are open to the public and free.
The so-called “Turkish” or “Moorish” baths are considered not just places to get really
clean, but also to relax, waste an hour or so, and see friends, and so we include them as leisure. Talk to someone at the CLC about the best (and correct) way to go for a hammam bath.
normally arranges a tour of some of the traditional sites of
A great way to come to know Marrakech is to take a horse-carriage ride around the old
city walls. Slightly different tours are available but you should expect to pay about 80-100Dh for a one hour to hour and a half tour. These coaches can be rented in front of the Hotel Menara (off Place de la Liberte, lower right hand corner of map).
Although most Moroccans are not overly sensitive to having their picture taken,
indiscriminately photographing people is not advisable: ask first. There are still instances when one may encounter a hostile attitude by certain Moroccans at having a camera pointed in their direction, and since this relates to religious beliefs, it is certainly better to opt for sensitivity.
In addition, there are certain scenes – for example, of police or military sites --- which you are not allowed to photograph.
basically, hustlers). In the past few years, however, the city has made great
strides to eliminate this problem by instituting the “Tourist Brigade”, special
police who circulate in the
There are numerous sandwich/snack places near the CLC. For non-Moroccan food (pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, salads, and brochettes), you can try Pinchos (5 m walk from the CLC, marked on map below) or the Grilliardière (15 m walk from the CLC, near the Eglise Sainte Anne church, lower central portion of map). In both places the waiters are supposed to be able to speak English.
For a nicer,
reasonably-priced sit-down dinner, try the Catanzaro Restaurant (10 m walk from
the CLC on Rue Tariq ben Ziad next to Hotel Touloussain marked on map). They
serve Italian, steaks, and salads. (Note: if you eat meat, it is generally better
to order it well-done (bien cuit) rather than rare. “Bien-cuit” often means it
comes out medium by US standards. The
For Moroccan food, there are many places, from the low-cost to the world-
good compromise is to try Dar Fassia (on
For those in need of the familiar, there is a McDonald’s on Blvd. Muhammad V directly across from the post office (see map), a Kentucky Fried Chicken, on the other side of the traffic circle from Mac D’s, and a Pizza Hut a little ways up the boulevard (at the corner of Ave. Mohammed V and Rue Sebou). All of these are about 10 minutes on foot from the CLC.
If you plan
to buy any items of handicrafts during your stay in
Afterwards, if you wish to set out on a bargaining adventure, you will at least have a frame of reference.
items you might find in a Walmart or Target in the
For grocery shopping, the main advantage is selection and speed. Otherwise, it is definitely an interesting cultural phenomenon watching veiled ladies and tourists wait in the same check-out line.
Islam is the
state religion of
Although you may encounter kif and hashish being smoked openly, keep in mind that it is
illegal, and some police take great pleasure in applying this law to foreigners. The inside of a Moroccan jail is an experience no one wants to have.
Although alcoholic beverages are available in
on the book that prohibits trying to convert Moroccans from Islam to another religion, and any school which is involved in this can be closed down and fined heavily.
By Moroccan law, it is prohibited to publicly criticize the Royal Family, and discussions
that might lead in this direction are not encouraged.
Moroccans must keep their identity cards with them at all times.
you will be expected to have your passport with you, except when we collect it.
You should carry a plasticized photocopy of the information page of your
passport and the page showing the entry stamp. If you are travelling by road
generally recognize drivers licenses from other countries. On account of the
short time you will be in
variations in a country like
For a yearly
chart that shows
Below are some very abbreviated notes. As mentioned at the beginning of this manual, readings from the bibliography on page 13 are highly recommended. The section has been adapted from a piece written by the director of the CLC Marrakech for Teaching EFL Outside the United States, TESOL Publications, 1992.
stand on the
beach in Tangier on a clear day, you can see the coast of
and climatically, Morocco is somewhat like a marriage of California (from San
Francisco south) and New Mexico: miles of coastline, mountain ranges affording
skiing and hiking through pine and cedar forests, sparsely vegetated plains
broken by reddish mesas, and finally, in the south, sand deserts with the palm
trees and camels that have provided Americans with their stereotypes of the
country ever since films such as The Road to Morocco. (For a
Rabatis who are often described in Moroccan Arabic as dakhleen suq ras hum,
(literally, inside the business of their own heads, meaning those who mind their own business) or
Fassis, who are often described as being somewhat closed to non-fassis, the
people of Marrakesh are known throughout Morocco for their warmth, their humor,
and their outgoing nature. These
qualities, however, may sometimes strike a newcomer from
As in other
tests can show how different our concepts of time can be. You may have a chance
to experience this in
For the ordinary Moroccan on the street, time itself has a qualitative side to it that
sometimes frustrates Westerners. To sit for a half an hour with a shopkeeper may seem
to someone used to being able to accomplish a dozen different things in a
single morning, but for Moroccans this human contact has great value. (Needless
to say, there are Americans whose lives are slower than Moroccans and Moroccans
who are every bit as busy as someone living in
particular interest to anyone who will be teaching a foreign language to [or
getting to know] students from
English is offered as a “second foreign language” when students reach the first year of
roughly the 9th grade in the
Spanish and German are offered as other choices, English is the overwhelming favorite. As of this writing (June, 2000), many private schools are introducing English to 8 and 9-year olds, and there is a proposal to do the same in public schools.
There are several factors that contribute to the tremendous popularity of English in
Lastly, the pedagogical approach used to teach English in high schools, despite certain
drawbacks, is generally ahead of the pedagogy used in other subjects.
For those of
you who have never lived in an Arab country before, and even for some of those
who have, a word of explanation about Arabic is in order. Modern Standard
Somewhat related to the question of Islam is the question of dress. There are many variations in the personal interpretation of what is “proper” clothing. Most city-dwelling Moroccans are fairly tolerant in their attitudes and do not expect foreigners to adhere to local dress codes which often vary dramatically from person to person anyway. However, this does not mean that anything goes. Few Moroccan men, for example, would appear on the street wearing above the knee shorts or shirtless except at the beach.
Moroccan women who do dress in tight jeans and low-cut tops are very aware of what
kind of response their attire will attract, and presumably know how to react, or not react,
by Moroccan men. All this, however,
enters into a Moroccan social dynamic which although it is interesting to us as
scholars, is not directly relevant to the general guidelines for how you, as
We would also prefer that you not bring or wear the following:
· T-shirts or hats with either images or words that could be offensive;
Clothes, hats, or back packs which
display the American flag --since even though
· Above the knee shorts, shirts or trousers with holes in them, tank tops.
The role of women in Moroccan society has been undergoing many changes in the past twenty years. Nevertheless, traditional attitudes concerning the roles of men and women are still prevalent among both men and women in all walks of society. These attitudes may differ considerably from those in western societies.
The greatest problems most American female students will encounter are attempts to get
attention by men on the streets, generally consisting of little more than “bonjour” or “hello.” This treatment is not reserved for foreigners. Moroccan women receive similar advances, and are generally aware that, while extremely annoying, such advances are seldom physically threatening. Such behavior is not acceptable and a response is not expected. Don’t worry about being “rude”: it is not impolite to ignore a stranger’s greetings or questions in the street; to respond -even in a negative way - is to offer them reason to continue bothering you.” It goes without saying that invitations from unknown men to “meet their families” should be flatly refused.
If anyone becomes particularly persistent, rude, or difficult to avoid, call him to someone
else’s attention. Other Moroccans- both men and women- are often more than willing to
intervene when they see someone in need of help and won’t hesitate to chastise someone
whom they see behaving shamefully. If you are ever followed more than once by the same man, contact the administration rather than try to deal with him on your own.
As in any
urban situation, the best way to ensure one’s safety in
and sticking to areas where there are plenty of people around to help should
you have any difficulties. Women in
speaking, women who go out walking in the evening do so in pairs or in groups.
Single women, depending on how they are dressed, could be mistaken for
prostitutes (which do exist in
between men and women in
find yourself drawn into a relationship that seems to be moving in a more
intimate than a platonic direction, whether you’re male or female, make sure
you know what you’re getting into. Outside of schoolyard flirtations, much of
the dating that does go on in
It is highly
recommended that you do some select background reading before coming to
Culture Shock! Morocco: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette, Orin Hargraves (Contains much useful information and analysis which will save you many misunderstandings and a few dirhams.)
Cadogan Guide to Morocco, Barnaby Rogerson. Fascinating detail on neariy every site in
A Practical Guide to lslamic Monuments in Morocco, Richard Parker. Architectural guide organized by city; learned but readable. Out of print, but still a wonderful work.
Lonely Planet: Morocco. Packed with useful information.
Lonely Planet: Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook. Will get you speaking Moroccan Arabic (Derija) quickly; well organized.
Orientalism, by the late Edward Said, is the principle work detailing the history of the western “dream” of the “Arab-Islamic” world.
A Street in Marrakech, Elizabeth W. Fernea (An American woman anthropologist’s view of Marrakech --- and its women--- in 1971-72; it will give you an idea of how much Marrakech has changed, or not, in the last 40 years).
best-known American writer about
example, if you call the CLC from inside
But if you
call from the
The other main city codes within the country are
(in case of emergencies on the roads outside
Telephone information (local) 160
Telephone information (international) 120
Time in Arabic 171
Time in French 172
ONCF (train) call center 0890 20 30 40
MCI 00 211 00 12
British Telecom 00211 00 44
After-hours telephone: (212)(537)-76-96-39
The Embassy's working hours
Monday - Friday from
For checking arrivals and departures:
Train times: http://www.oncf.ma/Fr/Horraires.aspx
CTM (bus) lines
Other websites of interest:
http://www.clcmorocco.org The Center for Language and Culture in Marrakech website.
http://www.morocco.com/ Morocco.com, a comprehensive site.
Covers many countries. Many beautiful photos of
Location of the CLC in respect to the Jema el-Fna, the old medina, and other major landmarks of Marrakech
Detailed general vicinity of the CLC.
The post office, for example, is an easy 8-minute walk.