Currently listening to Kendrick Lamar and feeling quite recovered from the most horrendous experience volunteering I've ever had and the most horrendous experience I've ever had on my 9 month trip! Basically, might never go WWOOFing again, even though my friends had such positive experiences. I won't go into too much detail about my experience farming in Vest-Agder, but unfortunately I ran into the worst person to volunteer for. I was taken advantage of, never told thank you, bullied, belittled, and never invited to do anything fun. The woman who organized the farm was the definition of a freeloader who gave the other volunteer and me the bare minimum in food (we lived off of brunøst and Wasa crackers, which is really NOT the normal Norwegian diet, maybe the traditional snack). I also ended up using a lot of my own food, as the woman never offered to take us into town to buy snacks or to treat us to anything.

Their food was incredibly bland and not enough for us to feel healthy. Farming is hard work, so you need nutrition, or a well balanced meal, which is something we didn't always get for dinner, and certainly not for lunch. She would yell at me for every little thing, even if I hadn't done something wrong. She would sit and smoke cigarettes and nitpick over every little thing while the other volunteer and I sweated and mucked out duck shit, cow shit, and did our best to scrub the floors. She even demanded that I help clean her house when I asked what we could do for fun (this was after I had worked the required 4-6 hours that day), and she was very passive aggressive. WWOOF is about exchanging cultures, not freeloading off of the goodwill of other people. In the end, after a particularly nasty outburst about the internet going out (and her blaming it on me, even though there were three other people in the house using internet), I decided I had to make the 2 hour+ trek to the bus and train station.

The next morning, I woke up at 6 am and started walking down the highway. I had left a diplomatic, honest note on why I could no longer stay at the farm, most notably that I did not feel welcome there. On my walk, I even saw my first Norwegian moose! It scampered away before I had a chance to get a photo. Surviving on my Ritz cracker and apple, with little food to spare, I made it halfway before a kind older Norwegian man picked me up and dropped me off at the train station. The unfortunate part was that there were so many sweet people in the town (which I won't bother to name to save privacy). They reminded me of small town Minnesotans with their small talk. A group of older men noticed I was a foreigner and as I placed my 5 kroner in the piggy bank to pay for coffee, they sweetly handed me a cup and said "enjoy your day!" Ugh. Just had the worst luck, didn't I?

When I had gotten to the train station, I received a nasty email explaining how nobody liked me at the farm, how I was weird, how I was a liar, how I don't know how to take care of animals (jokes on her as I grew up helping my parents raise a herd of up to 40 horses, chickens, dogs, goats, and cats!) and how I must eat my own shit (the lady didn't speak the best english). I wrote an honest review, and to ensure other WWOOFers considering the farm in the future knew what this person was like behind closed doors, I posted the message onto my review. Unfortunately WWOOF thought the review was a bit personal, so they flagged it. This really frustrates me, because had I known that this farm was not so supportive and verbally abused their volunteers, I would never have gone here! I guess the only advice I can give to future WWOOFers is that you should look for farms that have tons of positive reviews, because apparently WWOOF is afraid to allow honest negative feedback. In the future, if I ever give up my own free time and money (I had to buy several bus and train tickets, as well as a taxi, which totaled over $150!), I will go with WorkAway. I have lost a lot of trust in WWOOF as they seem to not care about the volunteers so much as the hosts. What I had was truly not a host, but a monster of a person who did not treat guests like guests, but rather like animals. I hope nobody has to go through the same experience as I have!

So yesterday I got into Stavanger and walked around town. I stayed in a nice hostel and luckily I've met several friendly Couchsurfing hosts that are willing to take me on :). I'm staying with one guy for a few days (many Norwegians are busy with family and friends this week as it's their Constitution Day) and I met another guy who will help me the rest of the week. There are many great places to hike nearby and the city is quite cute, though not as special to me as Trondheim or Tromsø (I'm quite biased towards the north of Norway). All in all, the Norwegians I have met are AMAZING people and have welcomed me and made me really feel at home. Unfortunately I found one rotten, horrendous, despicable person, which of course exists in every culture.

My advice to people that are in horrendous situations like mine: get out. You don't owe people anything. If someone takes you for granted, leave. I felt really unsafe, which is why I didn't tell them I was leaving because I know I would've had to listen to yelling and screaming. I have dealt with enough bullshit in my life to know that I don't need to listen to that. I have had SO many amazing Airbnb, Couchsurfing hosts and volunteering gigs that I know what I'm worth and what that relationship is supposed to be like. Unfortunately it didn't happen that way for me, but at least my friends built amazing relationships with their hosts. I am no longer in prison (it really felt like I was breaking from prison with all my stuff!) and am going to enjoy the last week I have in this beautiful country!

View of Stavanger

The Colorful Street; there are so many good bars! I went out for some sour beer here to unwind (Circus is a great beer bar!)

​A little piece of Myanmar right here in Stavanger. She is a democratic leader that was placed on house arrest, even after she won the election in Myanmar. Norway hands out the Nobel Peace prize, while Sweden hands out the Nobel prize. 

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Oh boy. I really hate to write this because I heard so many great experiences from my friends working on organic farms in Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Wales that I decided to WWOOF in the south of Norway. Unfortunately, I did not look so closely at the hosts that claimed they needed urgent help and emailed the first person I saw. I am now paying the price for that as I am stuck on a small farm in the mountains kilometers away from the nearest train station.

So for those of you that have farms and want to host free laborers in exchange for food and board (which, by the way, many Couchsurfing hosts have done for me without an exchange of labor), please do not do the following:

  1. Tell me after I have reached your farm that wifi is limited. Especially when there is nothing to do here except watch TV and you rudely change the channel while the other WWOOFer and I are watching a program. Especially when your program is not in English.
  2. Treat me like a second class citizen. Do not ask me questions about myself. Do not say my name ever, just refer to me as "she" or "her." It's not demoralizing or dehumanizing at all.
  3. Nitpick me over every little thing. I understand animal care is number one but when you yell at me for taking bread from a bag of bread that was already open, don't tell me to finish the other loaf first.
  4. Along those lines, be passive aggressive. If you don't want me using a certain bathroom, don't speak with me in a stern tone as if I'm a child. Come on. I'm kindly here of my own will. In that vein, if it weren't for us farmers, you wouldn't even have a farm.
  5. Give us no snacks. Farming is tiring and exhausting at times. Burning brush for hours and painting can get tiring. The body needs sugars, salts, and fats. Brown cheese on Wasa bread is not a snack, and no, no other Norwegian I've stayed with lives on that (in fact they eat much the same as me or any other North American). Don't be cheap. Buy us some chips, make some cookies, or leave out some nice candy.
  6. Never thank us. It's already bad enough I paid about $100 in train and bus tickets to get to and from here, so it adds insult to injury when you don't ever express gratitude. My Couchsurfing host in Tromsø, the one who invited me into her home last minute thanked me. And was gracious. How could you be so selfish as to not show any appreciation? I stopped thanking them for dinner after they started bossing me around without any notice of saying how well I did a job. It's just frustrating. I want to WWOOF to help community organizations and honest, hardworking people, not people that use me for free labor and don't express gratitude. This should be rule number 1 for hosts!
  7. Complain to me about how much the other WWOOFER eats or how much meat he requires. If he works over 4-6 hours for you (say all day, which is not necessary by WWOOF standards), then you better give him a nice dinner and not complain. If the eating bit is too much for you, don't host! Do your own work and stop complaining. It's also incredibly catty and I am going to act neutral.
  8. Insult other WWOOFers or talk about how great some WWOOFers are. I don't care that someone cleaned your house top to bottom, this is a farm VOLUNTEER position, and I'm only required to do 4-6 hours of work. I'm not going to clean your fucking house, especially when you're not grateful. Also, don't laugh at the guy from California who took forever to paint. I'm sorry, how much are you paying him again?! Oh that's right, jack shit. Also, don't complain to me about how other cultures eat like shit. Last time I checked, hot dogs and aioli for many dinners is NOT healthy. And nor is it the typical Norwegian diet! Look inward at your own smoking habits before telling me that olive oil is not healthy or that butter should never be eaten...
  9. Cook bland food. In fact, you should ask the farmers what they like to eat. Labor in Norway is extremely expensive. We should be treated well and given at least a few foods we like (within reason of course, not like King crab and filet mignon!). You could offer to take us to the store to buy our own beer or candies.
  10. Never take us out to do anything fun or buy us a beer. Half of WWOOF is helping farmers in need. The other half is exchanging cultures and showing appreciation for your guests. I shouldn't feel bad for taking a break or wanting to get out of this prison.

I hate to complain, but as someone who knows I will have to hire people to take care of my animals when I'm on vacation, I can't stand the way these people treat their guests. We are guests after all. Of course we need to respect rules and be cleanly, but it's absurd to treat us like robots or to not politely say we need to do something a certain way. It infuriates me. I am happy I only have a week left here, and I'm never coming back!!!! Looking back, I should have looked at the references better, as WWOOF isn't the greatest company for vetting people. C'est la vie.


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Eugenio had treated me to some new Norwegian food. I don't remember everything that was plated, but it was lots of aioli, rutabaga, beets, onions, parsley, dill, and potatoes.

Top left: fish tartare

Top right: herring

Bottom left: fish of the day (forget, some Norwegian whitefish)

Bottom right: whale (very typical Norwegian traditional food)

Far right: veal tongue (was too "beefy" for my liking)

Pictures from this past weekend in Bergen and in Hardangerfjord.

First row: The difference between savoring your wine and just being a drunk :P

Second row: Steinsdalsfossen (beautiful waterfall outside of the small town of Norheimsund), hike beer, and Hardangerfjord

Third row: Cute little waterfall on our hike to the BIG waterfall, sheep blocking our path (they have cowbells on!)

Fourth row: Cute southern Norwegian rooftops, looking down from Steinsdalsfossen, and an Americano and a doppio (isn't culture funny!?)

Fifth row: Looking out over Bergen fjord, Hardangerfjord

The last few days I was in Bergen staying in a shitty airbnb with my Italian buddy. We had such a great time together, joking around, practicing my horrendous Italian and helping my friend pronounce his "h's" (italian language does not pronounce "h" so much). He had a hard time differentiating "How are you?" And " 'Ow are you?" Which was adorable :). I love seeing what people struggle with in speaking english and in turn, what I would struggle with speaking their language. For example, english speakers aren't the best at remembering the "h" is silent in words like "ho" which is not pronounced like the english word, but rather "oh" like "ho fame" (I have hunger). Some Swedes speak english so dramatically (they're very whiny at times) whereas I speak Swedish much flatter than I should.

Hanging out with my friend, enjoying wonderful wine and cookies for breakfast (which is such an endearing Italian trait (i.e. Eating sweet foods for breakfast)) made me miss Italian people and my time in Bologna. While I have loved meeting many Norwegians here and do love my American friends, there are certain qualities I love about the Mediterranean cultures, particularly in the way they "savor life." Their relationships with one another are often better, the way they listen to music, go out to the cinema, treat cooking like an art form, and treat wine like a creation that must be perfectly mastered and presented makes me so happy. It sounds very cliché, but it is so true! Oh how I would love to move there someday and work in healthcare. Maybe if I join an international medical group...dreams :)

In Bergen, we hiked to the top of Stoltzekleiven, which was quite hot and we were both out of breath. It was a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the fjord. We also took a day trip to Norheindsum to see the Hardangerfjord. There are so many sheep farms there, I thought I was in New Zealand. Of course we went to Bryggen, which is the main tourist area that has cute buildings on the fisherman's wharf. Overall, Bergen was my least favorite city as it was filled with tourists (and crappy tourist restaurants). I just fell in love with the north of Norway, so it's pretty hard to compete :). Despite this, it was amazing to travel with a friend again and I felt pretty sad when Eugi had to go 😭. We share quite a few inside jokes, and it's making me excited to visit friends in Stockholm in two weeks and to go home and see friends I haven't seen in far too long! I am also planning my Iceland trip with a lady from Luxembourg. We are renting a manual car (obviously she is driving!) and camping along the ring road, the main highway that runs about 1300 km around the windy island.


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I made it to Tromsø and although I naively booked my flight here before realizing that it's too bright out to see the Northern Lights, I've had quite the adventure here. It started out with an over eager Couchsurfing host that was way over the top. For those who do not know much about CS, it is a completely free service for people traveling that need a place to stay. There isn't a catch, except for the fact that some hosts are incredibly strange and if you are smart, you should check people's references and backgrounds to see if they seem legitimate. One of my hosts had 100+ positive reviews from surfers (😲) and others had none, but the guy in Trondheim ended up being such a nice host (he offered me his bed so he would sleep on the couch and made me food). I have really appreciated those friendly hosts, especially the ones kind enough to loan me a spare key! But, this guy was too much.

My host had just gotten a job in Tromsø and his apartment was completely empty. He had very little in the way of cutlery or dishes and his bed didn't even have sheets on it or a pillow!!!! It reeked of cigarettes and sweat and the guy was so rude to locals. He would honk at people and shout at them in the car or cut them off (pedestrians mind you!). It was so embarrassing because we definitely got mean mugged by an older guy...I felt so bad. He said the weather here is awful and just could not stop complaining. I knew I needed to get out. Luckily, another CS person who could not host me but had offered to help me found me a place at his coworker's. This lady is in her 40s and is divorced and has the cutest little cozy apartment. She has a sweet dog (I think he's an Affenpinscher) and a skinny, purracious (made that word up :D) kitty. I'm totally buying her a bottle of wine because she gave me her daughter's bed in this cozy little room and is seriously the coolest. I hope when I'm 40 I'm open to letting strangers in need share my guest bed!

Other than the drama of finding a place to stay in Tromsø, I am done with Couchsurfing this trip (thank goodness, I like having more stable housing and not feeling obligated to give people money, say when they pick me up at the airport and insist on driving me around town, which is incredibly awkward especially in a small city). Tromsø honestly reminds me of a small city near Duluth. It's silly to say, considering we're surrounded by a beautiful fjord and some smaller mountains, but it fits the cozy atmosphere, the big hills in town (grrr Duluth), and the cute little cafes and restaurants. Loads of people in Norway, especially Northern Norway, LOVE fishing and hunting and just being outside, which totally fits the stereotypical Northern Minnesotan.

In Tromsø, there's even a hipster pour over coffee shop, which I'm currently sitting in :D. What I find most interesting about this small university city, is that there is a very rich, interesting history into the seal hunting industry. I visited Polarmuseet yesterday and was so interested in the history of dog sledding (not racing, like the Beargrease or the Iditarod, but really as a way of life for hunting and moving around places like Svalbard and the other Arctic territories). I'm not even going to try to explain the history of the explorations done by Roald Amundsen (most of the museum information was in Norwegian), but his notes on the flora and fauna and ocean salinity were very important back in the late 1800s/early 1900s. To read about what these men (and some women!) had to go through is incredible. Here's some information on RA in English: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Amundsen

I also found the story of Hjalmar Johansen and Fridtjof Nansen to be fascinating, including the parts where they had to kill each other's dogs, almost died by a polar bear attack, and had to jump between ice bergs to continue on their journey! What a crazy expedition! I don't think I would have the courage to do something like that! Read about it here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nansen%27s_Fram_expedition

Today I am going to walk around this city and go to the Aquarium. Tromsø is so beautiful in the winter time, with the aurora borealis, but also with the Arctic Cathedral all lit up! Unfortunately it is "summer" here (hahhah more like sleet and light snow/rainfall and chilly Seattle winter weather), so that won't be happening. It is quite expensive to get to, considering there's no train that goes here. I would recommend it for seeing a smaller Norwegian town. Not to mention I'm in of the "biggest" northern Norwegian cities. I would love to come back to Norway to do some fishing or camping. It's one of the best countries to do it in, and I honestly prefer it over New Zealand (though of course New Zealand is much more diverse in topography). I like the history and traditions here better than New Zealand, as far as the history of dog sledding, hunting, and fishing goes.

Speaking of fishing, Lofoten was BEAUTIFUL. It was completely dead, which was just what I needed to escape reality. In the summer, it's far more busy (say in a month until September) and I don't even want to know what camping is like there, probably as bad as trying to find a campsite on the Superior Hiking Trail in June. I walked several kilometers to the local grocery store in Storvågen and got many stares by locals. Imagine how isolated it would be to live there and to see this strange person with a big backpack just walking everywhere! If you want to visit Lofoten, you should take the ferry from Bodø to Moskenes and either rent a car, or take the bus. The bus almost never runs during the winter, so you're better off hitching a ride or walking. I couldn't climb up the mountain I wanted to as it was far too muddy, wet, and just dangerous on the rocks, so maybe I'll have to come back in the summer when it's drier. Overall, it was incredibly beautiful and not touristy at all in the winter!

Tomorrow I'm heading to Bergen. I'm also planning a short visit back to Stockholm to visit friends and then a week long trip to Iceland in the beginning of June. In about a month, I will be home! While I've loved traveling, it will be nice to have some more stability in my life (and to not live out of a dingy backpack!). Hooray for smelling nicer and wearing different clothes, like summer dresses and "impractical clothes" :D!

Bløtkake (Norwegian strawberry cake) and street art in Bodø

Pictures from my hostel in Å (of course nobody was there)

Fish heads left out to dry. FIshermen catch pollock, cod, and halibut

Mt Tindstinden in all her glory

The area is covered in moss; very little grass

Leaving beautiful Bodø!

Left: Reindeer hotdog in a waffle bun...not really my thing on that waffle bun!

Right: Caramel latte and a very typical Norwegian pastry: Skolebolle (School bun). It's a sweet bun with cardamom, custard, and coconut shavings. Veldig bra! (Ps I'm trying so hard use Norwegian and Swedish words that are the same, but it's hard with adjectives sometimes)

All photos from Polarmuseet. These dogs were far larger than the ones I used during my trip in Northern Minnesota. Their size reminded me of Alaskan Malamutes.

Mance Rayder or Roald Amundsen? Let's ask the Wildlings...

​Tromsø harbor; in the top right photo you can make out the Arctic cathedral in the center. 

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I'm in Trondheim right now relaxing in a cafe. I've eaten Norwegian kit kat bars everyday and an am now an addict. I just booked my stay in Bodø and Lofoten, where I will catch the ferry from Moskenes and stay in Å. Unfortunately, the bus is not running so much in Lofoten so I might walk 1.5 hours to my hostel!!! It reminds me a lot of New Zealand and the Greek isles in that way. In the off season, transportation is not frequent and many hostels close. It's understandable and I guess it is a good reason to practice being in boot camp with all of my heavy bags!

I've really enjoyed Trondheim. It's obviously quite small, especially compared to Oslo, but it's charming and the famous view from the old bridge with the beautiful colorful buildings is so worth the visit up from the south.

I still think Norwegians are such nice people. I've found many of them, including my hosts, to be very helpful and friendly. They watch so much American media!!! My host in Trondheim was showing me tv shows he watches and I've never even heard of them!!! My buddy in Oslo told me that people drink so much here (haven't exactly noticed) because there's nothing else to do!! It's crazy to think how small the population is here, given how long the country is! People apparently don't go out after work during the week, which is not like Americans at all!!! We LOVE our happy hour. People are quite intelligent and definitely Scandinavian modest (as in they will never openly brag about themselves and don't rudely cut queues or think of only themselves). They're quite nonjudgmental and helpful (I can't tell you how many times I've needed help with the local transport or finding something or whatever and people are willing to help you out without acting like you're wasting their time).

The weather has been "shit" here (it's actually not terrible for me since I don't love hot and sunny weather), but it's been snowing Dippin' dot-sized snow and the weather was "so bad" (again, I doubt it's anything compared to a Minnesota winter) at the airport in Oslo, my 8 AM flight got pushed back and canceled twice so I arrived in Trondheim 12 hours after I was supposed to!!! It's chilly for sure, especially in Trondheim, but it's perfect weather for running or roller skiing. I've seen so many people bike and roller ski, which is fantastic! Makes me excited to come to Minneapolis and Seattle soon!!! I haven't worked out in far too long.

On another note, I am so SICK and tired of tourists or people outside of the country bitching about how expensive everything is here. First of all, people have very high livable wages and awesome healthcare (it would cost me only $30 to visit a doctor here), so if I have to internally whine and get anxiety from buying $6 coffee or a $10 beer, so be it!). I wish people wouldn't come here if they thought it was unreasonably expensive! Norway and Sweden are unlike many other countries, maybe any, so to me they're very much worth the extra mile of budgeting. You can't enjoy this country if you stress over every little penny, so shut up and enjoy the beauty and serenity of Scandinavia. That's why I don't believe in going to Switzerland now. It's far too expensive and I know it's very similar to Austria, which is so beautiful and definitely affordable for me. So quit your whining and enjoy your time here! :D If you're truly concerned about budgeting, don't buy alcohol or coffee here. Don't go out to eat! Cook food from Bunnpris stores, it's doable! Walk a lot and find deals on the trains and don't go to super removed areas, like Lofoten, because it's going to cost you time and money (only do it if you're patient, have a ride on the islands, or don't care about the cost).

Apparently in Norway, hitchhiking is very common. I'm going to see if I can hitchhike in Lofoten, though I'm a bit of a chicken since I never did it, even in New Zealand!!!

Of course, transportation here is very expensive compared to other countries. I never take the bus long distance, and my bus costs $5 one way in Trondheim (to get to the center), which is good for Norwegian standards. In the US, I would normally pay $2.75 or so. I am taking the train when I can, especially if I find the "Minipris" which is the discounted price on the Norwegian train service website. I'm taking a long train tomorrow from Trondheim to Bodø, and am very much looking forward to staring out my window and watching Netflix movies on my tablet! Sometimes the flights are quite cheap here, but you have to plan in advance, unlike what I've been doing due to the uncertainty in my travel schedule. Flights from Oslo are generally quite cheap, but a flight from Trondheim to Bodø was too expensive for me, so the $50 train was the best option. It will probably be the only time I take the long distance train in Norway, otherwise I use the local train, bus, and tram all the time.

I think what I love most about Norway is the beautiful architecture (the older architecture, to be specific). I went to the Trondheim folk museum today and got lost in the beautiful buildings and farm land. It reminded me a lot of Skansen in Stockholm. I'm super excited that I'm still in the country for Norwegian Constitution Day, which seems to be like Norwegian Oktoberfest. Excited to see people's outfits and to drink! I love the decorations and designs of Norway, they're very cute and homey.

In the end, I had been putting off visiting this country but I am SO happy I decided to come. I have no regrets and will certainly come back to travel, if not study here. Scandinavia is so fantastic for backpacking and can certainly be budgeted for a person with several thousands of dollars. Don't come here if you expect $10 a night hostels and are going to whine that it's cold. It's not for you. But if you love hiking and seeing something outside of your culture (Americans don't have these beautiful, colorful buildings and rustic houses), you have to visit!


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I arrived in Oslo last night and I have to say, Norway is awesome! I was worried that this city would be really boring, as people say it's not a great tourist city but I disagree. There's loads of good museums, the parks are really cute, there are some really beautiful walks and cafes near the fjord, and it's a big city.

I have found Osloites to be quite different from Stockholmers. They are more friendly, less "Scandinavian" aloof, and dress more quirky. People from Stockholm are very posh and the city seems to be a bit more posh, minus the tacky sports/dive bars (that was the vibe I least liked about Stockholm, even though there are loads of cute bars and restaurants there). Men have long hair here, but they don't always wear it in a crazy man bun like men in Stockholm. They're less concerned with tanning and being fit. Women are also less petite I think, on average. They wear fun clothes and I find people to be more free spirited and fun here. Oddly enough, I think people definitely look different as well! They have a different facial shape and it seems like there's a higher proportion of brunettes here. I think Swedes, especially women, have "sweeter" faces, maybe like French women have sweet faces.

Oslo/Norway seems to be SO sporty, but not gym sporty, more like they LOVE the outdoors, which is so awesome! On my bus ride from the airport to the city center, I noticed plenty of people on road bikes and roller skiing. They are so amazing at Nordic skiing, and apparently they like ski jumping too! The food is also shockingly not bad! I love the freshness of their fish and shellfish. You can get affordable canned fish in tomato paste, shrimp, mussels, and lax here. Today I got reindeer patties, boiled potatoes, coffee, and a lingonberry jello dessert for about $30, which is comparable to Sweden and really not that much more expensive than a nice restaurant in Minneapolis. Norwegians eat a lot of fish cakes (not those disgusting things you buy at the supermarket in the US), brunost (brown cheese, which is actually made out of whey), and maybe not so many open faced sandwiches as Swedes do. I have yet to try any jams here, but there are so many good ones! I am particularly excited to eat cloudberry jam on waffles.

My Couchsurfing host is THE SWEETEST. He let me sleep in his bed (even after I insisted I should sleep on the couch) while he slept on the couch. He has hosted over 100 people, so obviously he loves to meet new people from around the world.

Norwegians are modest, just like Swedes. They don't have "fika" here. They like metal and are really funny people. They're incredibly sporty and outdoorsy. They're very sweet (I've had very good restaurant service and even had a Norwegian guy help me buy groceries). To be honest, I'm really surprised by how much I've enjoyed staying in Scandinavia, considering I have not known much about it before.

Overall, yes, Norway is very expensive but I think it's within reason. It's expensive to get anywhere by public transport (my bus to and from the airport was $35, whereas it was about $20 in Stockholm). Food can be affordable, just don't buy anything crazy and shop at Kiwi. There are more affordable cafes, so I try to eat non-imported products. There are quite a few pastries that are from Norway that I still have yet to try. Lastly, I was watching the news and reading the subtitles and noticed Norwegian sounds SOOO much like Swedish! The text, however, is very different. Some words are the same, but I is "jeg" and not "jag," so it's a bit confusing, especially since I'm only a beginner at speaking Swedish. Finally, just like Sweden, Norway is so so progressive in ways I have not even thought about. For example, one of their city hall offices is decorated with the people that helped build it, even though most European capitals are obsessed with honoring the monarchy or the rich. Both capitals are very admirable and egalitarian, but I feel like I've noticed it even more here.

🦐🐳🦌🌷🌲🌌🤸🏽♀️🏔🛳❤️💙🇳🇴

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Sweden really loves Easter (Påsk). I was shocked by how long their weekend is (they leave work halfway through Thursday, and have Monday off too!). Cute decorations. Also their hares are HUGE!

If only she knew how shit our football team is...

This past week I went to Uppsala and had a fun time walking around the cute university town and sipping coffee in the cute cafes. I went to a few impressive museums (Gustavianum and Upplandsmuseet), which have a nice collection of Egyptian artifacts and an old anatomy lab theater!!!! I walked up the very steep stairs of the theater and looked down onto a tiny little table for dissections. It was awesome! On one table, there were still signs left of the body, which is disgusting and awesome! Upplandsmuseet is more for learning about the past of Uppsala and how people used to live in the city (i.e. What they did for work, what kinds of houses and clothes they had, etc.).

I also fell in love walking around Skansen. Skansen is more for kids, but if you're not from Sweden, you should definitely go! It's got an animal exhibit and a playground, but there are SO many beautiful old Scandinavian buildings and Viking runes in the museum (it's an open air museum). I saw some moose, caribou, chickens, horses (the Gotland pony, which is an old breed that originates from an island east of Stockholm), and even brown bears (they're funny looking when they stand up!!!).

Swedish class has kept me on my toes. I do think it's a very easy language, in comparison to learning German or Arabic, but it has its curveballs, particularly with learning how to change suffixes on adjectives and verbs when you change the tense. Agreement in all languages is quite challenging, so Swedish is no exception.

I've met some really awesome Swedes, both in Uppsala and in Stockholm. I have gone out for drinks, gotten corrections on my grammar and improved my vocabulary, and learned about politics and some taboos here. Swedes think Americans are nuts for obvious reasons (i.e. Healthcare access, gun laws, education access, etc.) however I can't help but think Swedes (and I know Norwegians are similar in this way!) that they like "snus" (chewing tobacco) and cigarettes, yet there's a HUGE stigma against marijuana. My host in Uppsala said marijuana is a gateway drug and it's awful for your health, but he had no problem ruining his teeth with some chew. ICK! He's definitely not the only one who has said the same thing, but of course, everyone is different.

Unfortunately I leave Friday but I'm excited to come back someday. Hopefully I will go north because the wilderness in Sweden is beautiful! There are no fjords here like there are in Norway, but there are certainly hundreds of beautiful islands and forests. Gå till Sverige!

For Norway, I just booked my flights to Bergen, Trondheim, and my lodging in Norway, which is generally Couchsurfing, so at least I can save a bit of money. I'm too lazy to write much and I have to practice conjugation, but I definitely want to share my pictures from the last week.

Vi ses senare!

Damsuggare (vacuum in Swedish).

It's very sweet and has a weird liqueur in it called Punsch.

The tomb on the above right is the guy who founded Skansen (Artur Hazelius). It's so beautiful it's disgusting.

Godnatt Stockholm!

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I'm currently coughing up a lung in Stockholm (annoyingly enough I'm sick once again :K). Every country I visit, there's some strange medication you can get. I had to settle for a codeine-like product (alkaloid) and no Pseudoephedrine, which can only be given with a doctor's prescription. I also bought Bromhexine, which I've never heard of. It's an expectorant and it ended up costing about $7, which is not that bad at all.

So far, Sweden is obviously very expensive. A basic coffee is at least $3-4 (even if it's not good) and if you don't want to spend a lot of money on food, you should go to LIDL and get lunch there. I do that after my class sometimes, and I pay about 20 SEK (a little over $2) for a bean salad, which is pretty good and healthy.

My hostel is such a mess, so I cannot wait to get to Uppsala this weekend. Some lady decided in the middle of the night that she should tell me I'm in her bed, when in fact, she couldn't figure out which bed was hers in the first place. She had me get up, remove my sheets and comforter, and take her shit, and then refused to apologize to me and continued talking to me even after I told her I had class the next morning and I reminded her that other people were sleeping in the room. I've been very lucky throughout my 8 months of traveling with annoying people at the hostel, but unfortunately, I can't get away from weird and inconsiderate ones here. Blegh. I have been sleeping awfully and just don't feel like myself! It's crazy how much something as simple as where you sleep affects your health! I've been feeling nauseous, exhausted, and even had a fever this morning! Gross. There's also tons of people at my hostel looking for work here, which is crazy because a lot of them don't even speak English. I know this is incredibly callous of me to say, but I would expect that people would try to go to a country that wasn't so expensive to live in. I know Sweden gives out a lot of benefits to the poor, but I am pretty sure it gives special treatment to people of certain countries (e.g. Somalians and Eritreans) and refugees. A lot of people are just looking for work, say, from Morocco. Unfortunately they only seem to speak French and Darija, so I'm not sure why they didn't go to France when there's already tons of migrants in Sweden looking for work that do know English or have a leg up with their citizenship.

So how is learning Swedish? Fun! It's such a funny language because a lot of the phrases don't make any sense to me (some sound quite passive aggressive when translated into English). It also has a very particular intonation. It goes up-down-up-down-up-down. If you want to simplify that idea, think about how people speak exaggerated Italian. I love that when you ask someone how they are (which by the way, there are millions of ways to ask), you can say "Fint!" Which means "fine!" In English if you asked me the same and I responded "fine!" you would know I was pissed off.

Some of the words are SOOOO hard to pronounce. Some of the sounds really remind me of French (like how you pronounce the letter "r," which has a guttural rolling sound that starts low in your throat. Some hard words are "självklart" (which means obviously) and "säger" (which mean say) and tjugo (which means twenty). Even the word for engineer is crazy, because it sounds very Spanish with the way you pronounce the "j." There are a lot of "yuh" sounds on consonants and honestly, I think those are harder to pronounce than the vowels (once you learn how to properly speak the vowels).

I find myself talking in a "froggy" voice like when I do in French, but of course no "uhmmmmmm....ouais...." sounds! I don't think that Swedish is as "fluid" as French, rather, it's more like English in how the words stop, but not nearly as bad as talking with sticks in your mouth, like English.

Swedish has three unique letters in their alphabet, which are å, ä, and ö. You pronounce them "Oh," "eh" and "ooh" (like book), but for me it's incredibly hard to describe linguistic sounds over a blog post.

In Swedish, it's not common to say that the time is 1:20. Instead you say it's 20 past one or a quarter to 12. It's annoying for me, because I feel like an old person (only old Americans tell the time like that, as if they're reading an analog clock 😜).

It's crazy how many different accents the language has! Even certain words are not spoken in different cities. For example, saying "Hallå" instead of "hej" in Stockholm comes off as aggressive, but it doesn't in Gothenburg. While the US has a lot of dialects (because we are an absolutely enormous country) I would argue that places like Italy, which is far smaller but far older, is more diverse in the language!

In Swedish, there is a verb (fikar) for taking a fika, which is basically a coffee break. Or you can say "fikapauser," which is the name of an amazing Scandinavian restaurant I worked at back home. For me I don't "fika" because I drink coffee at my desk all day.🙈 My favorite part about learning languages has been seeing the different cultural aspects that are reflected in words and phrases.

My professor is very boring and does not have much of a sense of humor. He is almost always scowling and does not really know how to laugh with the class, so I wonder if he has a socializing disability, which is hard when you're teaching people a social subject and not chemistry or math. He is VERY by the book, and honestly too much so. While I am a big advocate of not speaking English when learning a language, sometimes it's necessary when you're absolutely lost. Also he cannot stop class EVER to answer a simple question, which really irritates me. I had a much better experience in Italy with my course. Also, my class is a bit larger than I like, so when we all repeat what he says, he cannot really hear who mispronounced something. My class would be so much better with a different professor, but at least I only have him for two weeks.

All in all, Swedish is an easy language to learn (it's pretty straightforward because there's very little masculine/feminine agreement and NO conjugation (😱), but I do think the pronunciation is quite challenging and it's going to be a LONG time before I nail it, just like it was for French. I am very happy to spend time in Stockholm, although I've been so busy I haven't seen much. I've visited bars and cafes and while many of the service workers are kind, I have to laugh at how "Scandinavian" people are. Some people are very direct, in a way that comes off as either harsh or awkward. For example, I lost my shoes on my flight to Stockholm from Madrid and the ticket counter lady basically said it was my fault and too bad for you (instead of answering my question if there's anything we can do). There was no "sorry, that's too bad because we don't have a tracking number" (a stereotypical customer service demeanor) but rather a "sucks to suck" attitude with a strong note of finality. There's definitely a stereotype that Scandinavian people are aloof, and oh boy, I feel it. To be fair, I can only talk about Swedish people, and only Stockholm. While I was VERY happy to get away from the annoying pestering of Moroccan men, Sweden is totally on the opposite side of the nosiness spectrum. I don't like chit chatting with people unless I connect with them (e.g. Something funny happened between us), but I have to say, Swedish culture is either socially awkward, very wary of foreigners, or all of the above. It doesn't bother me much since I don't live here, but man I think I would be annoyed if I did. That's why I really like places like Germany or Vienna; I fit in in the middle, as I think Spain or Portugal are too friendly for me but I don't like the coldness of Scandinavian culture. I'm very social and straightforward, but I'm definitely not fake and definitely don't want to be friends with everyone. I can't pretend I like you if I can't stand you, so in some ways, I get to be more direct here and not feel guilty like I would in Minnesota.

To describe to you how strange it is to interact with some people I'll tell you a story. I sat down at the bar and asked the bartender for recommendations about what to try. He was quite aloof (though not what I consider rude, just not cheerful which is so taboo for American bartenders) and gave me one of his favorite beers. 15 minutes later he asked me how I liked it and we got into a conversation. He totally lit up and we spent five minutes exchanging beer recommendations for each other. Of course not everyone in Stockholm is like that, but it does seem to be the typical idea. People come in all shades and flavors, so it's fun interacting with different cultures and seeing what "makes them tick." I am excited to meet some Norwegians and see how their language compares to Swedish! :)

Finally, I'm going to get something off my chest that absolutely drives me bonkers about some of the people in my course and some of the people that talk about Scandinavia, particularly on online sites like Reddit or among people back home (this doesn't apply to Scandinavians themselves). They have such Scandinavian fetishes due to the successful socialist reputations of the countries. I have people in my course that live here because they have spouses or significant others or are going to school here, which is cool. There's a girl in my course who absolutely fetishizes this country and acts like she knows everything about the culture, which is hilarious to me because Swedes are quite modest and would not look favorably upon this kind of bragging. It's also uncomfortable for me to listen to her, talking about how "she's so embarrassed she doesn't know the articles "ett" vs "en" and that her kids will be embarrassed for her." Mind you, she's 20 years old and is not even married, so why she envisions herself living here with kids is beyond me and cringeworthy at best. I am so sick of people pretending Scandinavia is such a haven. Yes, the government seems to be quite fair, the healthcare and education systems are awesome, and it's a very orderly and flawless system of public transport and societal functioning. Things work, unlike some countries I have visited. That being said...

I see so many people moving here who have NEVER even visited before, expecting free hand outs (someone at my hostel actually asked if they could come with me to my class because he thought it was free!!!! If only he knew how much time and money went into organizing my course!). They don't know anything about the culture or lifestyle. I would love to study here (because the quality of medical school graduate programs are amazing in Scandinavia) but I am almost 100% I could never live here. The weather is cold and rainy like Seattle now, but it's April! It's dark and depressing, so I started taking my antidepressant and Vitamin D pill again 😂. I bring up these things because it doesn't seem like anyone talks about the negative aspects of these countries. The food is very boring, though it is good comfort food. It's so fucking expensive, though yes, Norway is definitely worse! There's a feeling of exclusion within the culture, which is good if you're an introvert like me, but is bad if you're an extroverted introvert like me and you just want to bond over a coffee or some beer. Of course, I understand if people who grew up in Scandinavia and love it and want to stay (just as I have a love/hate relationship with the weather and people in Minnesota).

People in general dress quite stylish, but not a very "put together" stylish like Italians. I went shoe shopping (idiot me lost my Converse on my flight over here in my checked bag pocket) and I had to work hard to avoid platform shoes. I'm too much of a tomboy to not buy Converse or high tops!!! People are so fit! Swedes are very healthy, and some are scarily tan, especially younger men.

I have only been here three days so I look forward to updating at the end of next week, before I leave for Oslo! I like walking around Stockholm and find it to be a very clean and beautiful city. There's so many nice cafes and restaurants, and I find the random parks I stumble upon really charming. I cannot wait to start looking for farms to work on. I look forward to stuffing my face with more pastries and recovering from the virus!√ 

Swedish Princess Cake! Basically a light sponge cake with layers of cream and a green dome of marzipan. It's one of my favorite cakes.

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I'm currently in Madrid and am relaxing/listening to the Sorry About Last Night podcast during my post lunch siesta of Cava/potato chips. I loved Lisbon! It wasn't like anything I expected; the people look very different (they look "Brazilian" but of course, Brazilians look like Portuguese people) and it's a super affordable destination. I went to Sintra which is a castle and palace city 20 minutes west of Lisbon.

I love Lisbon for so many reasons: one, it has many random bars/restaurants in the middle of the roads/in parks that you can buy cheap glasses of beer and nibbles for very little. I went to Banana Cafe near my hostel and enjoyed sitting in the middle of the road watching business men and old ladies walk by. I wouldn't say people are SO friendly (like they are in Minnesota or Ireland) but they are definitely approachable and laid back. I was also shocked to find out coffee was 0,65 euros! It wasn't good coffee but that's insane!

This city loves dogs! I saw so many cute ones walk by and as I passed pet stores, I noticed a lot of high quality brands like Royal Canin. I love places that worship their pets. If you're visiting the tourist areas near the river, try to stay as little as possible because it's overwhelming and there's lots of tacky shops selling junk. That being said, Lisbon is a WONDERFUL city to just slow down your day and sit in Belem to grab a glass of 2 euro sangria and enjoy some salted codfish on toast. I love cities that don't feel so disgustingly touristy (Madrid feels like that, it's just majorly popular) like Vienna, much of Croatia in the winter (or in general, it's not SOOOO popular like Paris or Athens), or even Barcelona! It's not necessarily the city's fault, but I feel bad for the locals that have to deal with that. Growing up in a small tourist city, I loathed going downtown to where all of the tourists clog up traffic and gush over cheesy parts of the city, and patronize tacky junk stores and shitty bars. They're also incredibly loud when you just want to enjoy the beautiful nature of canoeing down the river, but wah, I digress. I know I'm whining but now I know what it feels like for people to dislike tourists (I really feel for all the bikers in Amsterdam that constantly have to watch out for clueless and high tourists). So that is why it is SO important to wander and get lost within cities. I found a really cute bar that wasn't ungodly overpriced selling fake Portuguese food (like 12 euro paella, which by the way, is from the south of Spain!) and really loved sitting in the shade watching kids playing on their toy cars while sipping wine. That may be the best part about traveling: relaxing and getting to know a city on your own. Free walking tours are lovely but honestly, I am quite done with the regimented nature of many tours. I've had enough shitty tours that I'm probably never going to do them again. For me, the best companies to work with were in Prague, Bucharest, Sofia, Vienna, and Berlin where the guides were clearly passionate about their jobs and educating you on their city! I've had lackluster ones in Zagreb, Lisbon, Barcelona, and Budapest.

I also say Lisbon is one of the most "liveable" European cities I've been to because it's clean, well organized, has affordable healthy food, the people seem really happy, and also, they have LOVELY parks. One park near my hostel had tips on Tai Chi, yoga, and even osteoporosis! I can't wait to go back to Portugal someday :). I also tried this interesting sour cherry liqueur called Gijinha. It really puckered my mouth and tasted strong!!

Something I've been thinking about throughout my time traveling across Europe and Northern Africa is that people need to chill out when I ask them to repeat something. A lot of people have been upset or even combative when I show I cannot understand their accent. For example, I have a hard time understanding people with thick Portuguese accents and Spanish accents because I do not know Portuguese and the Spanish I'm used to is more Central American. I can tell you firsthand that I've been misunderstood by French speakers, Italian speakers when I speak my basic Italian, and even people that don't know English very well and claim my accent is hard to understand!!! This is hilarious to me considering that American and Canadian English are by far easier for non-native speakers to understand (at least that's what I've been told by countless people on my travels around the world). When people tell me they can't understand me I stop, reflect on what is confusing, and remember they're not trying to upset me. I LOVE when people correct me on my French and Italian, because I know I must be messing something up and I am always striving to improve.

So please, do not be butt hurt when I ask you to repeat something or look confused. If we were born to always understand one another, it wouldn't be fun :). I can't wait to suck at pronouncing Swedish, cuz I already talked to three Swedish girls today and pronouncing some cities was quite fun and uh, interesting. 😂😂

I also realized how cool it is to hear the different dialects of certain languages. While I don't know WHERE in Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, or Germany (or maybe Austria or Switzerland!) you're from, I can definitely tell your accent sounds different. For me, Moroccan French is just the worst. It's super flat sounding and not as "élevé" as Parisian French. I dumbed down my French there because I mimicked the way people talked to me. It's like when I'm traveling with people that don't speak English well; I simplify my grammar and vocabulary and try not to speak with great pronunciation. I call it "sloppy French." When I spoke with my friend who is French, she quickly corrected me on a lot of my sloppy habits.

On a final controversial note, this trip has made me realize how stupid it is to assume you know something about another culture. I have had MANY the opinion on a given political leader or government, BUT it is not my job to tell someone what I think or assume I know what is best for a country. This attitude has gone both ways for me. For example, I watched a documentary on Colonia Dignidad and heard about the atrocities the Pinochet regime had committed in Chile. I asked a Chilean guy about his opinions on the political climate back then and while Pinochet was an awful man, he told me (via his father) that Allende was simply not the good man everyone thought he was, and that the people had actually fairly voted for Pinochet. I am so happy I asked because the Argentinian guy I was eating with was also coming from my perspective, so he clearly did not know that the situation was far more complex than a non-Chilean's perspective.

For me, I fucking hate when people tell me about "who should have won the election" or "why Hillary Clinton is evil" and "if I voted for Trump" when I'm traveling in an Arabic country! For one, what Trump voter would think it's safe to travel to Egypt or Morocco, let alone by themself as a woman?! Second, please do not interject your opinion on American politics if you've a) never lived there; b) never worked there; c) don't understand the ubiquitous corruption that is American politics (really all politics). If you really thought Bernie Sanders should have won, why do you think my country can't even agree on federally supported abortions, gun control reform, and universal healthcare!? We are not Germany or Sweden, so please do not tell me what's wrong with my country (believe me, there's a lot wrong ;)). Also, do not tell me Hillary Clinton is corrupt if you're not going to talk about Obama or the rest of my government, because yes, THEN I can agree with you.

I am so happy I have gotten to talk to so many of my "neighbors" abroad. I've met many Canadians, ranging in age from 24-45+ that do not like Trudeau and view him as a Prince Charming poster boy for the "Bernie bros" (the equivalent in my country) that has gone back on many promises. Reforming the election process in Canada and disallowing the Alberta oil pipelines were two such big campaign promises he went back on, yet he is some sort of saint to the naive (including Americans I know that have never even been to Canada!).

Going off of the last few ideas, it is so important to accept a country for who they are and to not assume they are wrong. For example, many of the middle eastern countries have monarchies, which fairly enough don't always work, but it's important not to be an elitist and assume they're shit. Morocco loves their king and you can see him in so many shops (and no it's not a North Korea leader dictatorship idol). It's the same way in Cambodia and Thailand. Traveling really opens up your eyes to how cultures and societies function and what may not be acceptable for you is the accepted norm in that country. I loved visiting Morocco for a short period, but I know I will absolutely never live there. I love a lot of socialist countries but it would be foolish for me to assume it would be so easy to move there when I have no idea how the tax system works.

​Walking around Lisbon and Madrid

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As I finish my last days in Morocco and head towards Tangers on the bus, I have to say I do not know if I will ever come back here. I liked Egypt far more than Morocco, and I have had too many shitty experiences of being ripped off. Today I asked the kiosk how much a bus ticket would be to Tangers and he claimed it was 220 dirham (which is about $22), and I knew he was lying so I checked online and showed him that it was actually 110 dirham. He muttered something grumpily under his breath and was rude to me when he took my money. While I know there are so many kind people in this country and the hospitality is amazing, I am so done. I've walked with my Asian friends around town and they've been shouted at, with things like "Hello China" (even though my friend is Taiwanese) and "Ni how" in a very exaggerated, barbaric, and rude tone. If I was Asian I would be livid. It makes me wonder how the men would respond if I called them "camel f****ers" or "sand n*****s," which are obviously disgusting and abject terms but is the hateful derogatory sentiment that much different from calling an Asian person "China Town" while you squint your eyes and stare at them like a museum exhibition? It's so hateful, painful, and damaging to the tourist industry!

The overt racism and sexism in Morocco is appalling, and it is so much more wealthy than Egypt! Of course Istanbul was far better to women, but I can't get over how disgusting many of the men in the street are. In Egypt, they asked me if I had a boyfriend, told me I was very pretty (which was awkward but they didn't say it in a way that made me feel horribly uncomfortable), or one tour guide jokingly offered that I should stay in Egypt and have 3 husbands there and some camels. I have spot on intuition and I know none of the Egyptian men were trying to disrespect me, or make me feel uncomfortable, they just wanted to joke with me. 😜 They would leave me alone when I refused a "selfie" with them and they never muttered callous or rude names to me. I never felt unsafe or horribly disrespected. Here, men outright follow you sometimes and exclaim you're angry for walking away (as if you're the problem and how dare you not respect this entitled prick). They also are intimidated by strong, confident women that have no time for their bullshit so they try to call you rude or mean. Maybe women here are more subservient to their childish behavior? I don't know. I don't get treated the same way when I walk with male friends, which disgusts me because they must assume I'm their property as opposed to my own agent. Can't wait for the coldness and shyness of Northern European and North American men :D!!!! They at least respect me as a human being. I'm not a delicate flower that needs to go first through a corridor or have my drinks poured for me. Yes, I know it is common courtesy, but I miss men that don't treat me like a child. I mean, if I was a child, how the hell could I curse like a sailor, travel around 30+ countries, figure out how to do things by myself, and still feel no shame for not wearing nice clothes, make up, and nice hair like a "proper lady?" I'm no Sansa, I'm that tomboy, rough, snarky Brienne of Tarth or Arya Stark and I don't need your pleasantries, thank you. 😂

The Moroccan men in the medina that cat call are straight up degrading man children and the best way to take care of the situation is to shame them for their rudeness. They will repeat what you say while you're walking in the street and I will ask them (in French) why are they being rude and repeating what I'm saying and their demeanor changes and they don't have a response. The best way to fight cat calling is to tell men how they're making you feel (dehumanized and exploited). It's repulsive. I also had a hostel that was incredibly patronizing to me (in Fes) and asked me why I'm so mad (not true, I just complained about the guy who charged my friends and I for a tour we did not know wasn't free) and that I need to calm down (wow thanks for implying that women are hysterical) so I threw it back in his face in French and told him I don't understand why I need a chaperone (he walked me to the restaurant uninvited and refused to dine with my male South American friends I met) and that he was overly sensitive. I'm not a baby, I have traveled by myself for the past 8 months, I do not need a holding hand, especially when I don't ask for your help. You have to tell people no all the time and even then, they don't get the message. The patronizing men at my hostel in Fes defended this behavior claiming that people just want to help strangers, disregarding any compassion for my feelings of lack of privacy or insecurity walking by myself. It's made me bitter and rude sometimes when I should be nice (there have definitely been people who have walked up and down streets to find things for me in the market or a place to go that don't demand any money and of course I graciously thank them for their kindness). The true Moroccan way is hospitality without a price, but more often than not, it is with an expectation that you are a walking money tree. This was not the feeling I had in Egypt, SE Asia or the more poor parts of South America, so I feel valid in saying Morocco is worse than any other place in the dehumanizing aspect.

That being said, I LOVE Berber people. There's quite a lot of racism (not just Asians) in Morocco towards black people and nomadic Berber people, which really infuriates me considering that the Berber people I've met (including men, women, and children) have been incredibly gracious, welcoming, and fair when I barter with them. That is the true Morocco for me, so to see them be referred to poorly really pisses me off. In Egypt, they are also very racist towards the Nubians (in the south) and the Sudanese refugees coming from the civil war. It's heartbreaking (naively I thought such anti-black racism was unique to the US and Europe) but you can still see that even economically disadvantaged people exploit other people.

Some of the good aspects thus far: Morocco has some very nice cuisine. You can get stewed meat (usually chicken, beef, or sheep) that is cooked with lemons, onions, potatoes, or squash, which is called tagine. They have a sweet meat pie called pastilla here in the northern parts of Morocco. The tabbouleh salad is excellent, but you can find the same cuisine in Spain. Sweet mint tea is served with everything here, and it is rude to refuse. The topography is beautiful, with canyons, mountains, beautiful lush green fields of orange trees and olives, and even Roman villages.

I'm sick of people here or online (tourists) that try to glorify and defend the sexist behavior of this country and outright ignore the disgusting side of the culture. Again, I have met plenty of Moroccans abroad and have met many kind ones, so no, not all Moroccan men are bad but stop sugar coating! It's also important to add that most Moroccan women I've met (and Egyptian) working in restaurants or in the small villages have been very kind, though you never see them because they have to play housewife while the men go out and socialize. Unfortunately, this woman wanted to share a taxi and only spoke Moroccan Arabic. When the taxi kicked both of us out (2 kilometers away from where I was supposed to be) he demanded 20 dirham for me, and of course she didn't pay anything and just used my kindness for a free ride. I hate to say it, but I can't trust Moroccans anymore. Maybe I'm the most unlucky person in the world here but it seems quite coincidental...When I compare my similarly long trip to Egypt (and 4 very different cities there) with my travel across part of Morocco, I am left with far less dehumanizing feelings and a better understanding of the culture. In Egypt, hospitality and tourist people treated me THE SAME as my male counterparts, not like a fragile little flower that can't possibly think for herself. I miss the people in Thailand and Vietnam that tell you where to go with a simple smile and a special kindness that leaves you longing to get to know the people. There are people like that here, but in my 10 day experience, that is far and few between. Modern Morocco (again, specifically Marrakech and Fes) is so staunchly anti feminist and racist and full of people trying to rip you off, it just sours my feelings about this country. Maybe I will go back to visit the local peoples again, I do not know.

​Top Left: Berber man pouring "Berber whisky" (mint tea). It's much easier and less stressful haggling with the nomadic people who make all of their own carpets out of camel fur and sheep's wool.

Top Right: Beautiful textiles in Aït Ben Haddou (famous movie setting)

Bottom Left: Overlooking the beautiful Ourika Valley on the way to Gorges de Dades

​Top: Doors of Fes and tannery

Middle: Famous Blue door of Fes

Bottom: Meknes fountain and Remnants of Volibulus

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