Thursday, November 17, 2011

11/17/11: The Love Of My Life And The Roommate Who Lit My Hair On Fire...

As I am sitting here in my room, enjoying the amazing lightening storm happening outside, I am listening to a 25 minute recitation of the Holy Qur'an, and am completely and utterly marveling in the beauty of it's sound, melody, and words. I truly feel that there are very few things in this world more beautiful than the sound of Arabic, and the fact that I have FINALLY started back up with my formal study of the language gives me a happiness beyond that of worded description.

So many people find it impossible to understand the love that I have for this language, and I can't count the number of times I have heard things like, "Why do you like the language of terrorists", "Arabic is such an ugly, dirty language", "You can't sound nice when you speak Arabic", and so on. In a sense I can't be too surprised at this since I am guilty of the same fault when it comes to the German language, but I guess, because I think Arabic is so beautiful, I find it hard to understand why everyone doesn't feel the same way :-).

Today was my first day starting my lessons with the tutor assigned to teach those of us who have had previous Arabic training. Unfortunately I was under the impression that Arabic was going to be highly emphasized in my program (which is partly why I chose to study here), and I was very disheartened to find out that they were only offering one class that would cater to beginners with NO Arabic experience or exposure... That was not fun for me to find out. After a rather lengthy process of back and forth emailing to try and eradicate this rather unfortunate situation, a tutor was finally arranged for us. Today was our first lesson and it felt above and beyond fantastic to get back into the study of Fusha. Eventually I want to pick back up with 3aamiyya (dialect/spoken), but in terms of needing the ability to understand Arab news and translate Arab texts the Modern Standard is what I really need.

It really is amazing how different the spoken and written forms of Arabic are, and learning both will really be like learning two separate languages. Luckily all of the extra studying really won't be a problem for me since I could be completely content sitting in a room studying only Arabic every day. Sure, it wouldn't be so well rounding, but I would love it! I just have to remember I have important seminars that need serious work and attention so I can't solely focus on Arabic (unfortunately). Luckily I'm trying to write on topics that require a lot of Arabic textual translation so the language will be useful in terms of my wider course load.

Wanting to well round myself during this first semester, I have decided to focus on issues less related to what I want to eventually write my thesis on. I feel that if I only focus on Jordan and the Palestinians I will burn out on the topic and it won't give me the breadth of knowledge I want to acquire from my Master's program. I have decided to focus one of my papers on Sufism (Islamic mysticism) and the music of the Sufi's which is turning out to be an amazingly fascinating topic. Islamic mysticism, much like Jewish mysticism, is so beautiful and fascinating, and the music can't be beat. I hope to focus another seminar on Jewish minorities in Arab countries from the beginning of the rise of Nazism, to the inception of Israel. It is a fascinating time period to study Arab Jews and I think I will focus on the once vibrant Jewish community of Iraq. This is an issue close to my heart since I am finding my own situation to be very similar to that of being a Jewish Arab (minus the fact that I'm not actually Arab... again, unfortunately).  I still have one seminar topic to lock down, but hopefully I will be struck by divine inspiration in the next few days!

As far as the social aspect goes, though being a graduate student is pretty much killing any vibrant social life I might have wanted, I am continuing to have the most amazing time in my new apartment with "my boys" (as I like to refer to them). Even when we aren't doing anything special, just hanging around the apartment being completely ridiculous and silly, I have the greatest time. The other night it was Morgan's "pretend" birthday so we all went to the nice hamburger restaurant near our apartment for a little, not so authentic, celebration. We had a few drinks, some delicious food, and it was a great night out. Morgan has a friend in town so it was nice having another girl added to the mix (although I must admit I love being the only girl in the apartment!).

Micha'el and Me at Dinner

After a delicious dinner we decided to go back to the apartment and pre party so that those of us not going out (me) could have a little fun before the boys continued their night on the town while I studied (which actually didn't end up happening (the going out or the studying), but we find out why later). After a few drinks and some hookah we naturally needed to find ways to entertain ourselves, so after getting a slightly intoxicated Krav Maga lesson,  I decided that I wanted to see Micha'el's gun that he always speaks so fondly of :-). Little did I know that this gun was a GUN GUN... It was huge and probably weighed more than I did! Needless to say I had fun playing with it even though I was slightly terrified the whole time it was out. 

Israeli housewife?? :-)

After another hour or so the crowed dispersed and Micha'el and I were the only ones left outside. Since he is pretty much identical to the typical Israeli he felt the need to smoke every five minutes, so we spent some time talking outside while he was giving himself lung cancer. When we got back inside he thought it would be funny to mess with me and flick the lighter by my hair... Little did he know that long hair near a flame is not the best idea, and right as he flicked the lighter my hair caught on fire!!! I think for a millisecond we were both in shock, we frantically put it out, and then couldn't stop laughing for a good five minutes. I really should have been mad but it was just too funny! Lucky the damage was minimal, and I think he will be a bit more cautious the next time he wants to play with fire. After recovering from what could have been a very, very unfortunate situation it was time to put the night behind me and get to bed. It was another great night in our CaliCondo, but I had class the next day so it was time to say goodnight. 

I'm hoping that this weekend will be very productive and filled with research so that I can get started on these papers, and I will report back tomorrow or the next day with all the goings on over here :-) 

Tisba7 3ala Khier <3,
Jordana Simone 

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