I recently returned from two weeks in Morocco. It was truly a life changing and eye opening experience for me.
The rural areas of Morocco are beautiful. The desert mountains littered with trees, the quilted patchwork farms of corn, cactus, and gourds. The people are beautiful too, in their long flowing robes, hitchhiking in the desert heat, or riding donkeys on the side of the road. It is such a different culture there. In Morocco, they speak a mixture of French, Arabic, and Berber, as well as Spanish in the north, near Spain. Their street signs (which do not name the street, incidentally) are usually in both Arabic and French. However, while the street signs will give their message once in Arabic, and then again in French, their speech is truly a mixture of both, with any given word in either language. For example, the subject might be in Arabic, the verb in French, and perhaps a Berber word thrown in, all within the same sentence. This can be a source of confusion, if you only speak one of the languages.
I was traveling with my husband, and his business associate was not able to join us for the first part of the trip. We were on our own, in this foreign land, without a translator. I had to dredge up the basic French I learned in high school, many moons ago. Although it was difficult to remember it at first, with such total immersion I was quickly able to make myself understood, so we could navigate the country. Understanding the Moroccans, however, was a bit harder, since I knew exactly one word in Arabic (La = No) and they spoke such a mixture of the two languages. Most people were quite patient with me though, some even helping me improve my French. While I worked on my French skills, my husband attempted to learn Arabic, so between us, we could have a basic conversation.
All in all, it was quite an adventure. It seemed that, just as we were acclimated to this strange and wondrous land, it was time to leave. On the way back, we flew through London. As we listened to the people around us speaking our native English, we realized that English now sounded foreign to us. As our skills in Arabic and French improved, our English skills had faltered, taking on the grammatic structures of the languages we were immersed in. It was amazing how quickly we forgot (even temporarily) some of the advanced elements and vocabulary of our own native tongue. What wondrous and adaptable minds we have as humans!