After an early morning airport dash and my lovely dad driving all the way to Heathrow to get me, I am now safe in my own bed at home and looking forward to a night of sleep that’s not in a dilapidated hotel room in a terrible area of town. A room where I can’t hear constant traffic and fighting, where there’s no stale smoke stench, no leaking bath and sink, with a bathroom that has hot water and where there’s working electricity and internet. In a house where I can go downstairs without being met by a crowd of staring men and prostitutes. Where I know I can wake up and walk outside safely without being physically, verbally or sexually assaulted!
Now I’ve gone, looking back I feel I made the right decision. Here are some other things I forgot to mention
– On my first day when I expressed worry that I didn’t know the area or any useful information and that I couldn’t walk around alone, his solution was that he’d assigned me a mentor, I asked when I’d get to meet her and he nonchalantly said she wouldn’t be back for another 10 days then went back to his office. Ten days! What did he expect me to do alone in that time, I didn’t even know where to get money or food or buy water to drink for goodness sake.
– Aforementioned mentor did turn up five days later, by this point I was already going stir crazy. Turns out she had no idea about me!
– I’d been ready to leave from day one, however I’m proud and hate giving up so wanted to stick it out to see if it would get better. I thought maybe it was just beginner’s nerves. Well that’s what everyone said. I needed someone to validate my concerns. This woman confirmed them and more. She genuinely saved me, she helped me to book my flight back, she got me a lift to the airport (something really hard to organise as the taxi system there is so bizarre and they won’t go certain ways!). If a woman who is assigned to be my ‘mentor’ is telling me to get out as fast as I can that has to be a sign.
– I would have been paid in cash for 12 months, in dirhams, which you cannot change out of the country, and without a bank account you cannot send home. Useless monopoly money essentially.
– I would be finishing work at 21.45 four nights a week, I then would have to walk home or get a late night, unsafe taxi, one that picks up other customers on the way. Usually men as women don’t hang around the streets unless they’re ‘working girls’.
– There were only 4 other expat teachers and all were there because they were older, married to Moroccans and settled with kids. Everybody keeps to themselves, there’s no one to socialse with and no where to socialise at all anyway. So I was looking at a year of living alone in an overpriced apartment, only leaving it to teach at a dodgy school for barely any money then risk my life walking home!
– At least three other teachers had left within the first few weeks over the past three years. Two girls my age did come last year, they didn’t know each other but made friends and said they only stayed because they had each other and never would’ve survived without one another!
I’d show you some photos, but I couldnt take any as it wasn’t safe to take a camera out on my own. Also there was nothing to take photos of unless characterless industrial buildings are your thing.
I could go on forever with lists of negatives, I thought I was an optimistic person but I cannot find one positive. Other than meeting that lovely lady and gaining some life experience!
I’ve heard so many similar nightmare stories, but usually in Asia or Russia, I wasn’t expecting it at all. My advice to others to avoid this would be to ask for the email address of an employee where you’re working (even better would be an ex-employee), ask them EVERYTHING. Suss out if they are being honest with you.
Thank you so much for all the amazing and caring message, it’s cheesy but I’ve been overwhelmed by lovely responses from so many great friends and family. I appreciated your concern from day one and especially your messages and support when I finally decided enough was enough! I was pretty scared about leaving as it’s a big pride thing for me, I can put up with and deal with a lot, but even this was beyond me. I am so lucky that I had the money and support to leave, it’s made me think of people across the world stuck in dangerously worse, much more grave situations that they cannot escape from. I am very, very lucky. Now to the next life chapter.