Ahlan wa Salan, Round 5


After a relaxing- albeit cold- winter break in Washington D.C., I have finally arrived back into the wonderfully warm heart of Amman. This will be my fifth academic semester here, having spent the last year and a half taking classes at various institutions around town. This time around, I am thrilled to return back to my “original stomping ground”– Sijal Institute. I was a student here two summers ago, and those few months of 4-6 daily classroom hours, not to mention the copious homework, set a strong foundation for my continuous Arabic learning trajectory. Whereas we were still learning from the “Al-Kitaab” textbook series my first go-round, my current class utilizes authentic sources straight from the Arab world such as Sowt, 7iber, and Raseef22.

When I first attended Sijal two summers ago, I placed into the intermediate level with Henry, my friend from Vassar (second to right)!

Because we placed into the advanced level, my phenomenal teacher, Ustaadza Rula, is able to tailor the lessons according to our academic and personal interests. Despite having started a little under a month ago, we have already managed to cover topics from unwed mothers undergoing abortions in secret, to challenges facing gay Muslims, to the legitimacy of capital punishment. While I am most definitely not fluent by any means, the fact that I can express some type of opinion in Arabic on these topics makes me realize how far I have progressed in my studies since my freshman year of college. But in all honesty, Arabic is a fierce ocean and I have just began dipping my toes on its calmer coastline! There is so much to be learned, which is both thrilling and daunting to a simple and humble student such as myself.

In addition, I feel satisfied with the many new vocabulary and ideas that I am learning thanks in no small part to how cool my fellow classmates are! Between a journalist, a start-up employee, a heritage speaker and some grad students, the diverse backgrounds and life experiences that surround me on a daily basis make for lively discussions in the classroom setting and fantastic friendships outside of it. I hope this provided you with a quick introduction to what I’m doing on the academic front.

Do I have a language partner yet? Am I volunteering on the side? How many times have I had hummus since arriving back? Who’s the special guest visiting me next week? Stay tuned for future updates!