Tomorrow begins our last week of new material in classes before we head into revision week for final exams and then our final week in Jordan.
Looking back on my journey in learning Arabic, it’s amazing how far I’ve come.
I came to Jordan knowing how to say hello and being able to identify only one letter in the Arabic alphabet.
In fact, when it came to Orientation Day back in September and having to take my placement test (which I took a picture of below), the only thing I could do was put my name on it and hand back in.
Looking back, taking that exam (or just putting my name on it) seemed like the most daunting thing and I was quite frankly embarrassed that I didn’t know anything in the whole ten-page exam.
I don’t like to toot my own horn but *tooty toot toot* because now I wish I could take the exam again as I can read almost everything on the page above and I can now confidently read and write Arabic and hold conversations.
I’ve even begun reading the Qur’an and can understand at least 50% of what the pages say despite my limited vocabulary.
I never expected to leave Jordan fluent after three months of studying, and one should never expect to even become remotely fluent in such a short time with learning a complex language like Arabic. Most scholars say it takes approximately six years for a non-native speaker to become proficient to the point of what is considered fluency, so I have quite a ways to go before I reach such a level.
However, I’m proud of what I’ve learned in such a short amount of time and that I’ve even had the confidence to not only take on such a language but to be as involved in class as I am.
Back home I hide in the corner of the classroom and hope my professor doesn’t notice me for ten weeks. My professors know my personality outside the classroom is definitely not the one I show in it, and they understand that I struggle with social anxiety.
However, since coming here it’s like I’ve become a whole new type of student. In fact if I’m even remotely quiet in class or my face is missing a smile, my instructors ask me 20 questions to see if I’m sick, sad, cold or tired and if I’m any of those, they run to get me a blanket, a cup of tea or tell me to go home and sleep.
While I’ve never taken them up on their offer to leave, as I feel like that’s always a trick, I happily accept a piping hot cup of Jordanian tea and cuddle right on up with their blankets.
I honestly believe I would not be the student I am now if it weren’t for the fostered, welcoming classroom environment I have at my language institute and my instructors that have become more like friends.
This is not to say that I don’t feel safe or comfortable with my professors back home, because I have relationships with them that I never imagined I would have when beginning my college education. In fact, students I know from larger universities think it’s weird that I call my professors by their first names and have their phone numbers.
However, knowing that the students I attend class with everyday here are on the same page as me and that we are all in that classroom to learn together is a comforting feeling.
As I progress in my studies back home, it feels more like a competition of who knows what and how much. Here, we aren’t expected to know everything about a certain topic and mistakes are a given.
My classmates and I literally started from the beginning and we’ve grown together over the last three months. Sure, our Arabic is far from perfect and we’re able to find way too much laughter because of it, but it makes our classroom environment that much more fun.
Just the other day my classmate Tiziana meant to say “ijahba” which means “answer” but accidentally said “jubna” which means “cheese.”My instructor Sarah thought it was the funniest thing and now she comes up to us and says, “What did you get for your jubna?”
My only hope is that the student I am now can be translated into the classroom back home once my classes begin in January. I know that not only would my professors be proud of me and most likely dumbfounded but I would be even more proud of myself.