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Practical Questions

Money?

Money used is the dirham. It comes in increments of 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 1, ½ and some smaller coins called centimes.

You can find the current exchange rate at the Exchange Rates website. Normally the exchange rate for 1 USD is anywhere between 7.5 and 8.5 Moroccan Dirham.

You can exchange money at most banks and at the airport. Most of the time you will need to show your passport to exchange money.

Moroccans really like exact change, or close to exact change, so hold on to your small bills (20s) and coins for taxi rides, buses, and hanuts (local convenience stores). You can use your big bills (200,100,50s) at restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, hotels, riads and train stations.

Amongst Moroccans prices are often referred to in ryals or francs (20 ryals = 20 francs= 1 dirham) and if you speak to someone in Moroccan Arabic about a price, you should be ready for an answer in ryals or francs. If you are good at math, you can just convert in your head, or you can just ask them what the price is in dirhams.

Most of daily life in Morocco runs on a cash system. Few restaurants take credit cards/check cards. You should assume that you need to pay cash for everything and not rely on paying with a credit or check card, as most places don't have the means to accept this type of payment.


Electricity

Electricity in Morocco is 220 Volts and 50 Hertz. If you are bringing things from the States like a blow dryer, iPod speakers etc, you will most likely need a converter (the box like thing you can plug your electronic device into) and an adapter (the piece that plugs into the wall)

Most laptops, iPods work with just an adapter, which can be purchased in the medinas or can be purchased for cheap in the States before you come.

Visas

US citizens get an automatic 90 day visa upon entering the country. If you leave the country (to go to Spain or Europe or wherever) and then return, your visa is automatically extended. Depending on how long you are staying and which school you are studying in, some schools offer the option of getting a student visa which will allow you to stay longer than the 90 days. The ability to get a student visa varies from school to school, city to city and subject to subject.

ATMs

ATMs are plentiful and will work using a US bank card. The ATMs vary in the amount of dirham you can withdraw at any one time. Some ATMs have a max 2000 dirham withdrawal, others are 4000 dirham and some are 8000 dirham. Typically your bank will also charge a fee for an international transaction. You should check with your bank before you go to learn the specifics.


Internet

Depending on which city you are in, your internet capacities will vary. In the big cities wifi is becoming more and more common, and it is not hard to find a café that has wifi available for your use. There are internet cafes all around, where you can go and use the internet for a price. It is normally pretty cheap, like 2 dirhams for 15 minutes or thereabouts. The computers at the internet cafes are typically old, slow, and full of spyware so be on guard.

In certain cities you can buy a wireless internet device that connects through your USB port and access the internet from wherever you are. The speed isn't great, but it is better than nothing. These are available from Wana and Meditel.

Phone numbers
The Moroccan phone system can be a bit tricky. If your phone number is 05 37 77 44 12, and your parents want to call you from the States they need to dial 011 212 5 37 77 44 12  notice the preceding 0 disappears on international calls. Also, in early 2009, Morocco moved from 9 digit phone numbers to 10 digit phone numbers. So if you see 9 digit phone numbers (lots of people/companies have not updated their information) you can add a 5 after the first 0 for a land line and a 6 after the first 0 for a cell phone.

Example:

Old Number (land line): 0 37 77 44 12 - New Number: 0 5 37 77 44 12

Old Number: 0 14 22 88 14 - New Number 0 6 14 22 88 14

If you don't know if you are calling a landline or a cell phone, try putting a five in and if it doesn't work, try inserting a six :).

 Cell phones can be purchased for about $30 on up to a couple of hundred dollars. Instead of getting a subscription plan, most people use prepaid calling cards which you are easy to buy. Talking on the cell phone is expensive and can cost about $0.50 a minute.

If you call someone else, you are charged for the call. If they call you, you are not charged for the call.

Text messages are cheaper.

Also, a common method of communication is to call someone and let it ring once and then hang up. You are not charged for the call and it is a good way to let your friend know you have arrived.