Well, technically I have not begun my travels yet, but since I consider my three weeks of Arabic class in New Haven a sort of intensive orientation, I thought I would give the Internet an update on my life thus far:
Week one of Arabic class was just intense enough that I felt like I was really learning something (i.e. 50+ vocab words and a whole new grammatical concept every day), but not so intense that I completely lost my head. (Emphasis on completely–there were a few points in my attempts to memorize lines of Arabic poetry that I went into hysterical bouts of laughter, but I eventually recovered.) Here’s a typical day:
Wake up at 7. Eat some cereal. Embark on 40-minute walk to class with guys I’m living with.
Class starts at 9 with Prof. Aziz giving us intensive lectures in grammar (with only the occasional tangent into “the problems of the Arabs” and recitations of the poem we’re memorizing when he thinks we’re getting drowsy).
10:30-10:45: Caffeine break.
10:45-12:15: Reviewing the short story we’re reading with Pro. al-Ani (5 pages and 50 vocab words a night!) and listening exercises (I lack the listening comprehension of a five-year-old. Sigh).
(Here’s where things get less rigid)
Lunch, nap, ARABIC HOMEWORK until at least 11pm, sleep, and then it all starts over again.
It feels like my ability to pick up vocabulary is increasing, though this may be more a function of my actually focusing on Arabic (because I don’t have much else to do) than anything else. When we were in class on Friday, we had a lesson in Levantine dialect, which I was completely incompetent at, though. Sigh.
This coming week: Prof. Aziz and Prof. al-Ani switch roles! We begin to read a story entitled “Children of the Forest”! And much more!
To close, a song version of the poem we’ve been memorizing. With really, really violent footage.