Amman in the Morning

Still in Amman and it’s still just as noisy and crowded and hot and dirty as ever, but I like it. A lot. Except for the heat, but at least there’s no humidity and not many mosquitos and I have AC at night. In other words, the weather is still better than last summer in Northfield. Alas.

Sunday was our first day of classes at Qasid, a well known institute for teaching Arabic. The environment there is very conservative — many of the men have beards and dress in an Islamic manner (I don’t actually know what Islamic dress is called…) and all of the women professors wear the Hijab. I’m taking either two or three classes depending on how you count things. I’m taking a class in Jordanian dialect, Modern Standard Arabic, and Arab Media (which is part of the MSA class). Initially, I was placed into the beginner dialect class and the intermediate MSA/media class.

Turns out the intermediate class was going to spend the first three weeks covering things I’ve already learned (and sometimes forgotten) and the Media portion of the class seemed much easier than my Media Arabic classes at Carleton.

Fortunately, I talked to the director and I’ve now switched into the Advanced MSA/Media class, which means I actually have homework that takes time now. Tonight, for example, one of my assignments was to interview three Jordanians about their opinions of the Arab revolutions and write a report on it. Needless to say, I heard some interesting things — one said Egypt was better off with Hosni Mubarak, and another said Iran is a larger problem in the region than Israel. I’ve been in this class for a day now, and it’s much better: instead of talking about how to read news articles, we read some and watched a clip of al-Jazeera. Very similar to at Carleton, but faster, and with an additional textbook.

The classes here are much faster paced than at Carleton or Lebanese American University. For example, we’re planning on covering a chapter of Al-Kitaab 2 every 5-6 days. For those of you who haven’t studied Arabic, that’s really fast. In a 10 week term at Carleton, we covered two chapters.

To do this, we have three hours of MSA/Media Arabic, an hour of Jordanian dialect, and half an hour sessions with our speaking partners every weekday plus weekly language socialization activities and probably other things to come. Plus an expected 3-4 hours of homework every night. Oh dear.

Coming soon are pictures from our trip to Salt and hopefully other activities. Unlike at LAU, we only have one scheduled excursion, and are left to our own devices to explore Jordan this summer. This weekend some of us might be going to Umm Qais in the Northwest of Jordan, at the border of Jordan, Israel, and Syria. That should be fun.

First test tomorrow, so yella bye.

Also: we’re only allowed to speak to each other in Arabic. Always.