Starting a New Career

I have been living in Morocco for three months today. I am full of gratitude for my life here. I have learned and grown so much and so quickly.

First, I co-taught with Head Teacher Khadija, who showed me how to keep students engaged through movement and games. Then, for the first time, I taught my very own ESL class. My students were lovely and at times hilarious – especially a small teenage boy named Mohammed, who often argued rambunctiously with the other students and myself, yelling “teacher laa!” when he didn’t get his way. Perhaps other teachers would have been appalled and annoyed with his behavior, but to me it was simply hilarious, lovable even.  Indeed, I loved every one of my students – the shy ones, the loud ones, the great writers and the poor test takers. It was this love that made me look forward to coming to class everyday.

It has been a great start to my career as a teacher!

Somehow, I am thriving here. I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and I can’t wait for the new challenges and adventures to come!

Dancing with the Ladies

I had a great time learning an awesome local Oujdi dance with the ladies at my friend’s baby naming ceremony (known in Morocco as “sbou3”). It involved a lot of shoulder action and stamping on the ground to the beat of the music! So much fun.

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At one point they put on Egyptian (darbuka drum) music, and I got to practice my bellydance moves! Although I couldn’t communicate much with the party guests (my Moroccan Arabic is still very basic), I was able to connect with the ladies through dance. I’m grateful to have taken several years of bellydance lessons while I was in Florida. Though we were all dressed modestly, our hip scarves accentuated the dance movements so they could be clearly seen.

How I Ended Up Teaching English in Morocco

Three weeks ago, I quit my job, moved out of my parents’ house and boarded a plane to Morocco.

Why? I always wanted to live abroad. I thought of Morocco because I wanted to improve my Arabic, a language I had studied years ago but had since dropped. I was also eager to live in a different culture.

However, I also had my reservations. As an American woman who was well aware (thanks to western media) of the least satisfactory qualities of Arab countries, I was hesitant to follow my heart. Further, as a Jewish woman, I was terrified. What if I am harassed on the street? What if I am targeted for being Jewish?

These fears would eventually be quelled once I set foot in the country for the first time. Strangely enough, I would never have ended up teaching in Oujda, a small city near the border with Algeria, had it not been for my Miami consulting job.

Right around the time I was considering a career change and move abroad, our CEO scheduled a company retreat in Italy.

While discussing plane tickets with my boss, a thought popped into my head: Italy is not far from Morocco…why not take a few days off after the retreat to explore?

Not everyone has the luxury to visit their prospective country before moving there. However, if you can, I would highly recommend it. Those few days were instrumental to me moving to Morocco and ending up in Oujda.

During my brief visit, I decided that Morocco was definitely where I wanted to live. Yet, I was unmoved by the big cities of Rabat and Casablanca, as they felt too much like Europe. One of my contacts suggested that I check out the American Language Centers in some of the smaller cities.

One thing led to another, and I ended up moving to Morocco just three weeks from my initial visit! I did this so that I would have time to check out the American Language Centers in multiple cities in time to make my decision and secure a teaching position before the hiring season was over.

Moving to Morocco in 3 weeks (with no job offer) was a leap of faith. Today, on the eve of my first day as a teacher at the American Language Center in Oujda, I am so glad I followed my heart!