Today is Saturday, June 12th which marks the end of my first official week learning Arabic in both the Modern Standard Arabic dialect and the Jordanian Arabic dialect. If I am being completely honest I really didn’t know what to expect as I quite literally came into the program with n0 working knowledge of the language, yet the idea of ending this summer with the ability to communicate in Arabic is still incredibly exciting.
While my original plans were to study in eastern France for a semester, completing this program means a lot to me, and although it’s only been a week I’ve been able to see the beauty in being able to connect with my teachers through their native language and reflect on how quickly I’ve been able to adapt to the rigor of my coursework.
Unfortunately, since I am not physically in Amman Jordan I will not have any cool and interesting personal photos of the city to post for my blogs but I will be able to share the work and projects I’ve had the privilege of completing thus far. My goal with these weekly journals is to communicate one thing that I struggled with each week and one new thing I learned. It is my hope that doing so will not only continue to provide me the space to reflect on my virtual study abroad experience but also encourage and engage those of you who have taken the time to read my writing.
With that being said, I found that while this week was full of a lot of gratitude and joy, it was also full of mourning. As a student whose first time on a plane was less than a year ago, being accepted into a study abroad program was unbelievable, and receiving a scholarship from FEA was a dream come true. Although I acknowledge that not being able to travel abroad is not the same as other life-threatening and financially devastating consequences of COVID-19, the lost opportunity of physically studying in another country is something I still think about today. Although I am grateful for my two phenomenal and personable teachers, I can’t help but wonder how different it would be to speak with them in person and to learn more about the country of Jordan from outside of a classroom. Still, while there’s lingering sadness there is also much optimism in how my program works so incredibly hard to create a culturally immersive experience for their students.
If I had to choose only one thing I learned this week it would definitely be how to persevere in the midst of great frustration.
Arabic is both a beautiful and immensely difficult language (for English speakers), especially for someone who is not accustomed to speaking it, yet there is great reward in seeing how much studying pays off. I think it’s really important to recognize that feelings of frustration are common and very normal in language learning and that it’s ok to feel those things.
During orientation, I was absolutely shocked to hear that class would be completely in Arabic after 3 weeks and even more shocked when one of my Arabic professors refused to speak to me in English (during my first week no less!). However, although it’s only been a few days I am still so grateful for the chance to learn about such an enriching culture from individuals who care about my success. I am excited to see what other challenges and learning opportunities studying Arabic has in store for me.
Thank you for reading, see you next week!