It's like America but different.
What's life like in Peace Corps Morocco? Well, it's just like home in America. We work, we have houses, we shop, we deal with the hot and cold, we have pets, we see friends.
It's just a little different. Not better, not worse, just different. How different? Well, when you start living here, it may feel very different. But after a few months, it will feel like home, with only occasional reminders that you live in a foreign country.
Photo by Cassandra Broadwin
Because Morocco's infrastructure is developing gradually, electricity is in all sites and is generally reliable. The power is the same voltage as continental Europe, using the two-pin Europlug. Bring with you a few adapters. Some outlets are recessed, while some are flat with the wall, and some have a third grounding pin in the wall. You will need adapters that can either use the grounding pin, or ones that can avoid them altogether (like the photo above). You can also find adapters for USB-powered devices.
You will want to make sure all of your electronics can support 220 V power input. Look at your electronics and they will list the electricity input as 100-120V, or 100-240V. You will need ones that say 100-240V. Most electronics support this. If you are bringing something that doesn't support dual-voltage, however, you will also need to bring a power converter. Otherwise, that electronic device can and probably will be damaged. If everything does support dual-voltage, you do not need to bring a power converter.
Although electronic stoves and ovens can be found, the overwhelming majority of them use propane. They don't have built-in igniters, so this has to be done with a lighter. Installing and using them properly has to be done with care, as CO poisoning can happen without you realizing it. Peace Corps gives you a smoke/CO detector and their importance cannot be stressed enough. Peace Corps also trains you on how to use, install, and check for leaks. However, if given the opportunity, you may want to practice this with home grills before coming to Morocco.
In almost all current PCV sites, water is safe to drink, though it may not taste very good. If you have a particularly sensitive stomach, sticking to bottled water (available everywhere in bottles ranging from a quarter liter to five liters) is a good idea. But it should be noted that the water in Morocco is treated, the main problem being that it contains different levels of minerals than you might be used to. As a result, many volunteers experience gastrointestinal issues for the first number of months in country, but ultimately acclimate and regularly drink tap water. However, since all sites are different, you will need to ask people in your community if they themselves drink the water. Bottom line: only you know how your stomach handles change.
Propane is also used for many space heaters and water heaters, although electric ones can be found for both. The same care must be taken as with stoves and ovens.
Talking to friends and family back home
Phones can be used to call the States, too, but is very expensive. Of course, incoming calls to your phone cost you nothing. Many PCVs had Google Voice accounts back home, which, if kept active, will allow you to call U.S. phones at no cost via internet. Others buy unlimited U.S. calling via Skype or other service.
When you get here, you will be given a bank account and an ATM card. While most sites have a bank, they might not have your bank, which will lead to ATM fees when withdrawing. Using your bank's ATM, you can check your balance and withdraw money.
For your bank accounts back home, you can definitely use them when needed, although Peace Corps encourages living within the means of your monthly allowance which is currently about 2900 dirhams per month (around $290). Make sure your PIN is only four digits long, and if you are looking to open a new account before leaving, your priority should be to have the lowest international ATM withdraw fees and currency exchange rates as possible.
A challenge that many Peace Corps Morocco volunteers face (and also look forward to) is Ramadan. Ramadan is celebrated as the month in which the prophet Mohammed received the first of the revelations that make up the Quran. Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon, so the beginning of Ramadan can vary by nation and it moves up 11 days each year. In 2017 it began on May 27. The Ramadan fast is one of the five pillars of Islam, as devout Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn until sundown. After sundown, the fast is broken with celebrations and food.
Many Peace Corps Volunteers participate in the daily fast; it demonstrates an appreciation for their respective communities, and it better connects volunteers to the daily life of neighbors and counterparts. The daily fast is broken with a meal (lftur), often milk, dates, harira, and juice. Your neighbors will likely ask you to join them in breaking the fast. Dinner comes later in the night. PCVs should expect their daily routine to change dramatically: more late night activity and less daytime activity. Because work is not always available during Ramadan, some volunteers travel during this time. However, many also consider this an invaluable time for integration.
travel & vacation
You are given two days of vacation each month of service (this excludes PST), meaning you will have 24 days each year and 48 over the course of your service. By any standard, this is a generous amount. In addition, you choose your weekly schedule, meaning you have the freedom to travel to nearby sites without using vacation days.
Aside from weekend travel, your supervisor at your assigned work site (dar shabab, nadi neswi, school, etc.) must approve your requested time off. You must also get approval from your Peace Corps regional manager (two days in advance for in-country travel or two weeks in advance for international travel).
Travel is forbidden to countries with a State Department travel advisory, or where another Peace Corps Country Director forbids it (e.g. there are upcoming elections in that country and some unrest is expected). There are no exceptions to these travel bans, even if you've already purchased tickets. If you are traveling outside of the U.S. or Europe, you also must get approval from the medical office and given necessary medications, if applicable.
Seeing and connecting with other PCVs
You will make good friends during PST and will become rather close with the volunteers near your site. As a result, you'll see other PCVs with surprising regularity, between trainings, camps, and other work opportunities. As mentioned elsewhere, you have unlimited phone plans, and probably all volunteers have Internet of some variety, so chatting on things like Facebook is very common. Also, we always have time for fun, as you can see in the video.
It should also be noted that many volunteers have sitemates for either part or all of their service. Some incoming volunteers will simply replace another volunteer, overlapping just a month or less, while some may spend all of their service one volunteer from their incoming group, or a different one for each year. In fact, if you meet someone during PST that you know you can get along with for two years, feel free to request to be sitemates. It may not happen, but it might.
Blogs and Vlogs
Here are blogs from current and former volunteers who have asked to include them on this website. More blogs will be added as they are offered.
They are sorted by area of Morocco..
Volunteers in the North
Hannah Boston (Staj 98): Hannah in Morocco
Meredith Supinski & Stephen Sajewski (Staj 98): Joe and Jane in Morocco
Jackie Bannon (Staj 99): Jackie Bannon
Audrey Huetteman (Staj 99): Aud Lives Abroad
Volunteers in the East
Sarah Blakeney (Staj 98): Adventures with Sarah
Kelly Parliament (Staj 98): The International Parliament
Lea Philips (Staj 98): Transcending the Distance
Matt Rogers (Staj 98): Matt in the Maghrib
Christabel Lorenzo (Staj 99): Crreees
Volunteers in the South
Maddie Baker (Staj 99): Maddie Meets Morocco
Ali Crain (Staj 98): alicrain
Renee Palecek (Staj 99): Renee, Around the World
Sam Heffner (Staj 99): Not Your Average Walk In The Desert
Volunteers in the West
Julie Sherbill (Staj 98): We're all Shoes
Adriana Curto (Staj 99): Adriana Jude Curto
Volunteers in the Center
Jesse Altman (Staj 98): Adventures in المغرب
Shay Braxton (Staj 98): Shay Wanders
Mathew Crichton (Staj 98): Morocco Adventures
Will Burriss (Staj 98): Peace Corps Morocco with William Burriss
Brad Janocha (Staj 99): Between Taxis
Brad's counterpart, Chouaib Ait Said: Jethro Vlogs
Sh*t PCVs Say (by PC Ghana)
Kinda hits the mark...
PC Morocco YouTube Channel
Playlist of daily life
Ten part audio documentary by RPCV David McDonald (2012-2014)