Just under two weeks left until winter break! Funny how quickly life seems to take a full circle – it wasn’t too long ago that I was typing my first blog less than two weeks into my study abroad experience, and now I’m here writing that that’s all the time I have left. I’m lucky that I’ll be coming back to Amman to continue my Arabic studies even after break… but that doesn’t stop the feeling of how quickly time has flown. My roommates and I have been talking about how amazing it is to think that we didn’t even know each other just three months ago. And as this session ends, some of these people whom I have come to know and love will be moving on and away from Amman, leaving our place here a little emptier, and reminding us of how little time we really have, and how we’d better make the most of it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first – Eid!!! Last week we celebrated Eid-ul-Adha, the most important celebration in Islam, which takes place at the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage) season. Two of my roommates decided to travel for Eid, so it was just three of us in the house – and I was determined to make it a good time! This, of course, meant “cooking up a storm,” which we promptly began doing on Thursday, our first day off for break and the day before Eid. The menu consisted of samosas, channa bateta (chickpeas and potato that tasted good, but nothing like it was supposed to!), kheer (rice pudding), puri (Indian type of fried bread), halwa-e-swanak (Afghani sweet of sugar and walnuts), sev pak (Indian sweet with sweetened condensed milk), and our family’s traditional coconut biscuits, which we make every Eid. Not a very Middle Eastern collection, I suppose… but it was a good way to remind ourselves of home and family during the holiday, and was a lot of fun to make!
On Eid morning, all of us stayed up after the morning prayer (Fajr) in order to get ready for and attend the Eid prayer at our nearby mosque at about 6:45 a.m.. Thankfully we made it on time, and there met many of our friends from our little town whom we have gotten to know through various events and invitations over the past few months. A couple hours later, my roommate and I also attended an Eid brunch where we sang some nasheeds (Islamic songs), and thereafter spent the rest of the day at our friends’ house, talking, cooking, eating, laughing, putting away meat from the sacrifice that day (sheep were slaughtered for Eid, with the meat going to the families themselves and the poor), and playing telephone pictionary!
Overall, it was a pretty great Eid… especially considering I’ve just been busy doing a lot of homework since then! It’s the end of the term and finals time for me too, since I’m taking two Rollins independent study courses from here, and finals at Qasid are also just a week and a half away. That means there are only four more days of classes left!!! This week on Wednesday, I have to do a presentation in Arabic on any topic, and I have no idea what to pick. My first idea was to talk about the “theory of everything,” because I think it’s pretty amazing… but then I realized that it’s hard enough to describe in English, let alone in Arabic!
Thursday we’re planning on having a party in class, and then there will be the weekend before finals at Qasid start. I can’t believe one session is already over; I wonder how far I’ve come since arriving here? It’s always hard to tell with languages, because there’s no set way of testing yourself, other than through conversation… but I think I’ve learned a lot from this program, and I know I can continue to do a lot more. I’ll be staying here for two more sessions, inshallah (God willing), and am also hoping to take the classical sciences course when I get back in order to make my grammar even stronger. Two of my roommates are in that class right now, and I hear it’s pretty great!
I’m happy to be going home again soon, but even happier and more at ease – I think – because I know I’ll be coming back. There’s so much more for me to learn here, so much to experience, so much to do, that I know I’d have a million regrets if I were leaving Amman for good. All the more reason to double my efforts in January! Time really is a precious gift, and I hope I can do it justice in the months and years to come.
And with that food for thought, I say goodbye. It’s been wonderful sharing my experiences with all of you, and I hope that they have in some way helped you to realize all of the amazing opportunities that are yours for the taking! If there’s anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to e-mail and ask J
For all you language learners out there, here’s some general advice on language study; it’s my little gift to you for the holidays!
- Read over your notes for the day and recopy them if possible
- Make flashcards for new vocabulary- this one is important! You don’t want to get stuck behind on words, because then they start piling up…
- Practice speaking as much as possible, and try to use new vocabulary and grammar rules in your speech; it’s better to make mistakes than to keep quiet because knowing how to use the knowledge is just as important as knowing the words or rules by themselves.
- Talk to native speakers and other language students in Arabic!! You can help each other. (My roommates and I need to learn this one!)
- Renew your intention. Remember to remind yourself why you are learning the language; this gives you the strength to continue.
Peace be with you, always.