February 10, 2011

Well, I’ve reached the end of my first week of classes. I have a Modern Standard Arabic course and a Colloquial Jordanian Arabic course. I also have two area studies courses; America and the Arabs; and Jordan and the Arab Israeli Conflict.

I think I will enjoy my Arabic courses as the professors seem very nice and easy to follow. However the week got off to a rough start as I had my Arabic placement test. The test was brutal. I only scored a 20% on it which means I have a lot of work to do. The caveat to this is I did not study any material prior to this test since I wanted to make sure I was not placed into too difficult of a course. Unfortunately I’m going to be going over a few chapters that I already went over at home but this should help strengthen my base and will make me much more proficient overall. It seems as though my biggest weakness is in vocabulary which is something that I just have to practice on my own.

My area studies courses are going to be very interesting I believe. My professor received his Ph.D from Durham University in the UK. He spoke a little about his university’s inferiority complex when it comes to what he called the “Oxbridge” (Cambridge and Oxford), something he was not aware of until after he got there. The classes themselves should be very interesting as the material is fascinating and we are also going to have the opportunity to interact with Jordanian students and discuss political issues during the term. This is something that is simply not available back at home.

Overall it’s been an interesting week. We’ve been fighting a battle with the hot water and heat since we moved in. The landlord came over on Tuesday and basically turned the heat and hot water on. It might have been nice for that to have happened when we moved in but whatever. I took my first warm shower in over a week last night. I felt like I had been baptized or just got home from the best date ever and that the roomies and I should sit and gossip about the shower for a while afterwards. Call to prayer still wakes me up every morning at 4:30AM. Also every morning there is a truck that drives around playing extremely loud annoying ice cream truck like music which apparently notifies people that the gas truck is coming. If you run out of cooking gas you can exchange tanks with this truck. I bought a USB internet plug but it doesn’t work still even after three password resets. Now I have to take it back and attempt to get my money back. I can’t wait for that argument.

Now on to some memorable moments. One of my roommates got asked by a cab driver for his girlfriend’s telephone number back in the states and why he didn’t have a girlfriend here in Jordan also. Seriously. My other roomie was in a car accident while in a cab. The cabbie got out and was pretty much about to exchange blows with the 3 kids involved. Needless to say, my roommate left money for the cab and took off. I walked into a shwarma shop and no-one would serve me yet they served my roommate (who looks much more American than I do). People who ask for money speak really good English when they do it. No-one in Amman knows a street name. Amman’s sidewalks are brutal (I sprained my foot today because I stepped on an uneven section wrong). A Lebanese worker (I think he might have been the manager) at Lebnani snack asked me why American students only come to Jordan to study Arabic. Then he only talked to me because he proclaimed I spoke better Arabic than my roommates. He asked for my Facebook account (I politely explained that I do not have it memorized). Some Arabs make really good pizza

That’s about it for today. Cheers.

Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That’s gotta be really weird. You’re the outsider, and you’re experiencing some form of racism. Freaky.

  2. You know, I’m sorry that you’re having some challenges there, but it’s really interesting to read about! I can almost picture it : ) Love you!

  3. Good stuff, Walter!! I’m enjoying reading your exploits. I’m sure you’ll be senselessly beating cabdrivers and swearing fluently for your money back in no time, just like the locals. 🙂

    I took some summer law classes in Durham, & I thought it was great! (Also, Philip & his family lived there for 2 years when he was little- when they went back to California, the school thought his sister was “backward” b/c she had such a thick Northern accent).

    Gail Collins had a good op ed today about Texas and abstinence-only school programs…

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