This week as I’ve been thinking about things I could blog about, I realize that there are all kinds of cool cultural things I can write about, but first I probably ought to let you all know what I’m actually doing here! Yes I’ve been here for a month already, and yes I’ve only posted twice on my blog… but there’s good reason for that! So here’s a typical day in the life on this study abroad.
As much as possible, a couple friends and I like to go running at Sport City, which is about the only place really good for running around here. Sport City has the international soccer team playing field in it, as well as some other sports facilities like for tennis and such. There’s also a little wooded area with a trail through it that is a 1.5 mile loop. It’s great! We get up at 6 AM and take a taxi together to go running. I’ve just started going regularly with them, and it’s been the highlight of my day. When we’re first getting there around 6:30 we have a good view of the sun rising over the polluted city – one sort of okay thing about pollution is that it makes the sunrise really pretty. When we finish running we head back home and get ready for class at ten.
At ten starts our Qasid classes. These are held at Qasid Institute, a center for foreigners learning Arabic. This is apparently the first time that BYU has had Qasid as part of our program, and they’re great! We get a lot of focused attention from a huge staff of phenomenal teachers and I think we’re extremely lucky to be benefiting from that. Our first class at 10 is our issues class. We were split into five groups for this class, and my group has got to be the best 🙂 Our teacher, Faddi, is the best, too. He’s Jordanian, so of course this class is all in Arabic and we’re lucky to have Faddi because his Arabic is great and we understand it really well. In this class we discuss modern issues in the Middle East and it’s based on participation. It’s so useful because these are issues that are really commonly brought up in Middle East studies, and when we discuss them in class we get to learn a lot of the vocabulary that’s associated with them. Right after this class is a presentation class with the same group and teacher where we give presentations in Arabic, classical or colloquial (those are different dialects of Arabic for anyone who didn’t know), depending on the day. We record these presentations for speaking appointments later. Our class is a blast because we are pretty laid back and our teacher likes to joke around a lot, so I’ve stopped feeling nervous about giving presentations every day because I’m comfortable there. This is my other favorite part of the day.
Once presentation class is over at noon we have until 4 to eat, get in two hours of speaking at the University, and have appointments. I usually eat and prepare for my appointments for about an hour before they start. These appointments are GREAT. Every day it’s on a different topic (twice a week it’s on colloquial speaking, twice on writing, and once on classical speaking) but we have it with the same person every day. My appointment teacher is named Aman, and she’s really nice. It’s so good to have one-on-one time every day with a native speaking teacher because it gets some good speaking in and we get great feedback. After appointments I usually go to JU to speak with my friends. Yes, I do have Arab friends now 🙂 It’s taken a long time to get a couple of really consistent, patient friends. Most often I see Farah, a really great, patient, sweet girl who talks consistently with me and two other girls from our program. I also meet pretty often with Falak and Malak, who are identical twins, and their friends Dania and ‘Ula. When I meet with them I’m often sort of a background prop… they refer to me often enough for me to get some good practice speaking and understanding, but mostly they just like me around when they’re hanging out. It’s so nice to have people here who want to be friends 🙂 It was pretty hard at first to not feel like anyone wanted to be friends with me. But it’s all better now.
After speaking we have Dil class at 4:00 where we get announcements, have quizzes, talk about OPI prep, etc. Then at five we’re done! We have two hours of newspaper homework every evening and that’s it. It’s definitely busy and definitely intense, but I am surprised to find that I have a lot more free time than I expected, and even more free time than I had in my last semester at BYU. It’s a crazy schedule but it’s doable, especially looking at it from this much-needed weekend break 🙂