As promised, I am asking to international travellers and people living and working in a foreign country to share their life stories with me to know why they decided to leave families and friends behind to explore new realities and meet new cultures!
Are you curious about how they managed to adapt and settle in their new countries? Then follow my expat interviews categorised by country! Are you an expat wanting to share your tips and experience with the rest of the world and be a source of inspiration? Then fill in the expat interview form: I would love to hearing from you!
“Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Iba Battuta
Let’s meet Teresa: an nomadic expat who made of Tangier her home (for now!)
Introduce yourself briefly. Tell us who you are!
Hello! I’m a Black American woman living in Morocco. I grew up moving a lot since my dad was in the military field. I pretty early on made myself my home and that made it easier to live a nomadic lifestyle. I write, sing, dance and I love making people laugh, all the while questioning when it’ll be time to settle into a place for good, or, at least, call it a home base. At the moment, I really feel good in Tangier. It feels like a friend.
Why did you move to your current country?
I have always been moving and so I kind of got used to living with the idea in the back of my mind that I’d pack up and go somewhere new in a few years. My last international move was from St. Louis to North Morocco in Tangier where I currently live. I knew I had to go somewhere after graduating from college. The Mediterranean has always been my favourite place on earth since childhood. I wanted to live somewhere where I could speak French if I felt like it. Lastly, I wanted to learn more about a style of dance and about Islam.
What do you do for a living? How was the job hunting?
I came here to write about how travelling changes you, so I’ve been freelancing for a while. For a living, I’ve been teaching English on Dave’s Cafe, I think it is the best site to find a job as a teacher, and also through Facebook groups. Through those places, I learned about the schools hiring teachers. I applied while in the States and left within ten days of the interview. I sold my car and headed out so fast that I didn’t have time to pay a $5 parking ticket I’d gotten within those ten days =P.
How is the social life in your city, is it easy to make friends?
People are pretty social and there are lots of generally welcoming circles. However, as a foreigner, chances are that you’re limited to how many people also speak your preferred language(s), and how many can tolerate cultural differences. As well, there is a subtle hierarchy of race and passport colour, so sometimes these factors come into play, meaning foreigners can attract friends who harbour jealousy, assumptions, or other weird hang-ups. I haven’t made that many close friends, but I’m an introvert, anyway.
Why should people move there? Why did you fall in love with this place?
I do recommend living in Tangier, if like me, you enjoy places that feel like a favourite sweater — dirty in a familiar way, will probably last forever, and will always just let you move around freely. Tangier, like all of the north of Morocco is more static compared to more lively cities such as Casablanca. You’ll find people doing the same thing in the same places and it’s comforting. As for the country, I like that I can be immersed in a different way of life without feeling pressure to conform to it.
What do you want to say to people looking to move there?
To find an accommodation, you have to find an agent who networks with landlords. So many aspects of life in Morocco don’t involve the internet. If you’re a people person, you’ll be fine in this word-of-mouth way of doing things.
How is the health system? Is it a safe place to live in?
Booking regular health appointments is easy, and finding a good doctor is the key. I only heard that in the event of an emergency it’s very normal to pay for medical supplies upfront, before any procedures. So you might have to leave to go buy a list of things and come back before the doctor helps you out.
Also, it’s a pretty conservative place to the point where the gynaecologist will avoid asking if you are a virgin by first asking in code if you are married. I thought that was odd.
How is the general cost of living, what is the average rent?
I live fine on six or seven hundred dollars a month, but I’m a low-maintenance person. My tiny apartment costs 2800 MAD a month, including utilities. I live in the city centre, so I don’t really have to bother with taxis and transports.
Tell us something you don’t like about where you live and the difficulties you came across when settling in.
Different countries say different things about humanity, so parts of Morocco showcase lousy traits of the human race. I dislike the fact that it’s actually normal to turn down a child beggar and it’s not unusual to see children doing drugs in the streets and most of the travel industry brushes over it.
This is my first time in a developing country, so I relied on what’s written about Morocco to give me an idea of what daily life was. I was also surprised at how many people didn’t believe me when I told them I’m American. There is a smothering amount of racism in certain areas, usually quaint ones.
Tell me an unmissable thing to do in your city over a weekend
Everyone says to go to the Kasbah. I say “Don’t go to the Kasbah. Go to where there’s live music!”.
Did you find Teresa’s experience useful? Then check out the other upcoming expat interviews in other cities!