Assalamu Alaikum (السلام عليكم)! Hello, from Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco! My name is Kailey Hunt, and I am a third year International Relations and Global Studies, Government, and Middle Eastern Studies major at the University of Texas at Austin. This semester, I am writing to you as an exchange student at Al-Akhawayn University, located in the small, quaint town of Ifrane, in Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains.
As of yesterday, I have officially been in Morocco for one week, and the initial whirlwind of travel, with the jetlag and hours-long layovers, and new-student orientation has finally, at last, begun to calm down. In the rare event of free time this past week, I have typically been exploring the town-center and markets (marche) of Ifrane with other students. It was here, in fact, that I was introduced to and first discovered this marvelous beverage known to Moroccans as “attay”, or as the rest of the world knows it — the famous Moroccan or Maghreb mint tea.
The tea, which reminds me a lot of our own beloved southern sweet tea, serves as THE symbol of Moroccan hospitality and friendship. You will find it anywhere and everywhere you can think of here — from city markets to upscale restaurants. It was the first thing I was served upon arrival, and it continues to be a staple in my daily diet here, particularly in the evenings when my friends and I come together to play cards or discuss our day. Fittingly, it was also over a pot of attay that I first met and got to know most of my Moroccan friends, including Anis, who was an exchange student at UT last semester.
As I sit here writing and sipping a cup of attay with Anis, surrounded by my new friends, I cannot help but feel a twinge of sadness, as I realize that already, I have formed an attachment to this place and all of its lovely people. Perhaps, though, this is why I am here. Yes, the school is great. Yes, learning and becoming engaged with a different culture is wonderful and important. But the opportunity to just hold a conversation and connect with people from a whole other continent over a pot of tea — to me, that is priceless.
Until next time, I give you all my best.
Ma-Salaama (مع السلامة)
This post was contributed by Kailey Hunt, a 2019 Global Ambassador.
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Marguerite Swilling says
Living the life of a world scholar. Your horizons are endless! Thank you for taking me into the experience of the exchange student. I want to share a cup of attay with you when you return. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy vicariously.