Monday, October 31, 2011

10/31/11: And So It Begins...

The Great Mosque In Mecca 

The big day has finally arrived! Today was my first day as a graduate student, and I will say that it was extremely exciting :-) Mondays are by far the longest days in my schedule consisting of Ulpan (Hebrew class) from 8:30-10:00 am, Seminar on Modern Middle East History from 12:15-2, Seminar on the Foundations for the Advanced Study of the History of Islam from 2-6 pm, and then Arabic from 6:15-8 pm... OY! 

Hebrew is incredible, of course, because I am continuing to study with my fantastic teacher from this summer, Eti. She is just as amazing as she was this summer, and I am so lucky to have her during the semester. As far as the seminars go, both seem incredibly interesting. The History of the Modern Middle East is taught by a very well respected professor here in Tel Aviv, and I have heard he is one of the best. He seemed very nice, extremely knowledgeable, and I think I will learn a great deal. The seminar on the History of Islam, I think, will be one of my favorite seminars of the semester. It only meets once a week, and we have a great deal of reading, but it is extremely interactive, and our professor (a PhD from Harvard University) is a real character. Each of us students specified what we wanted to focus our graduate work on and then we had the option of picking a region, so naturally, because the Palestinian territories weren't an option, I picked Jordan! I will be focusing mainly on this country for the purposes of this seminar, and I couldn't be more excited! I don't know much about Islam, but from the little I learned today, I was completely enthralled and so excited to learn about this very special religion. 

Lastly was my Arabic class. I can't tell you how disheartened I was sitting in this class tonight. I came to this University, and to this country, because I was under the impression I would be advancing my knowledge of Arabic a great deal. The Arabic language is one of the most important aspects of my studies, it is the great love of my life, and to see how the program organized their Arabic lessons makes me sad beyond expression. I have studied this language on and off for about 4 years now and they only offer a beginning level! They have no alternative for those of us who have a very solid background in Modern Standard Arabic, and in my situation, I have also studied the Palestinian dialect, yet they have nothing to offer us. We just sit there staring at the wall because we are bored out of our minds... I will put a great deal of my energy into making sure the university comes up with a solution that allows me to get my money's worth in terms of the teaching of this language. I am investing a great deal of my money into this Master's program, largely because of the Arabic component, and I expect to get my investment's worth. I don't know how, but I will make sure something positive gets accomplished! 

Other than the unfortunate situation with Arabic, this semester will surely be an incredible one. I can't wait to fill my head with extensive knowledge on this amazing region that I now call my home from the people who live here, to the religions they follow, to the culture which governs their everyday lives. It is sure to send me well on my way to being an expert on all things Middle East! My quest to become Dr. Pepper is now in full swing, and I've never been more ready or excited for anything in my life! 

I'm finally moving into my new apartment tomorrow, then I have a formal opening banquet, followed by 5 days filled with a whole lot of readings! I will be a busy girl from now until February. I also have to start wrapping my head around the fact that I will have two 15 page papers and one 30 page paper due at the end of the term... and a Thesis to worry about! Well, I guess that's the life of a graduate :-) 

Until Tomorrow ya chaverim! 
Jordana Simone

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