Only my second week in Jordan, I’ve already felt that the language immersion and intensive language classes have so far benefited me greatly in my own goal of achieving a higher understanding of linguistic and cultural awareness. As the class began to pick up this week, having 4-5 hours of Modern Standard and dialectical Arabic on weekdays, I felt that the pressure of learning Arabic has so far been more natural. Having the opportunity to study Arabic surrounded by like-minded individuals and local instructors and practicing after class has dramatically improved my Arabic communication skills within one week. Compared to acquiring a foreign language back in the states, the ability to practice the said language through short class periods is drastically different compared to the opportunities presented here. Meanwhile, Jordan is a vibrant city itself and also contains a diverse number of attractions one can find themselves within. Although surprising to me initially, many people living here in Amman do indeed speak English to a certain extent, which can sometimes be somewhat irritating since it can be counterintuitive to learning the Arabic language.
Outside of my regular class, my program provider also had recently provided us with a language partner whom we will meet at least 3 hours every week to practice both Arabic and know the local culture. For this week, my language partner and other program students and I hung out in a café for a night. Sitting around with a local friend really brings me more insight into the traditional Jordanian and Arab countries I’ve never heard of before. Especially understanding the intriguing modern dynamics of traditional Islamic and more western values intermixed in the metropolis of Amman. More specifically, although it is discouraging to sit in a conversation of limited understanding due to the language barrier, it was fruitful to also see my Arabic skills improving drastically as I could now understand much greater material than before. In addition to my newly assigned Arabic language partners, local Jordanian neighbors provided by our program sponsors also present an excellent opportunity to practice Arabic and stay active in traveling around Jordan. This week, our neighbors and everyone in the program enjoyed quality time playing soccer and experiencing the Turkish bath. Although clear communication can still be an issue for me, sharing common interests such as sports and other forms of leisure was a great way to find universal similarities across culture and language.
As next week slowly approaches, the next phase in my language and cultural acquisition journey continues. Even though tests and schools have taken a toll on my enjoyment of free time, I remain optimistic as excursions to the beautiful Wadi Rum and Petra await!