Final Reflections

At the beginning of this summer, I outlined a few goals. Now, it’s time to see how I’ve done. Here we go:


1. At the end of the summer, I will be able to read any Arabic news article with relative ease.

This is somewhat true! It depends on what the topic of the article is, of course, but with relative ease I can read the news in Arabic these days. (I still can’t quite hear the news– those radio newsmen speak way too fast for me).

2. At the end of the summer, I will be able to hear and piece together conversations without translating in my head. Conversation will become much more natural and I will be able to structure sentences in Arabic without first forming them in English.

Yep. Conversation is much easier. Even in my english interactions, now, I find myself finding the Arabic word for a concept before I can think of the English word. That’s pretty wack.

3. At the end of the summer, I will have found an academic advisor in Jordan to help with formulating, specifying, and executing my Fulbright research proposal.

I, unfortunately, will not be proposing a Fulbright Fellowship research idea. Why? Well– the idea I have is not feasible given the constraints of a single year of field research. So, for that reason, I’ve actually just scrapped the whole application.

4. At the end of the summer, I will be able to understand the lyrics of Arabic music.

Ehhhhhhhh this one is tricky. Since songs are often written in the colloquial language, it always depends on who the artist is. For isntance, I can understand Jordanian and Palestinian artists pretty well. Egyptian? Some of it. Morroccan? No chance.

5. At the end of the summer, I will be able to write in Arabic creatively; beyond simple mechanical sentences and more toward a poetic style of the language.

Yep. I love playing with Arabic words these days. It’s really fun to stumble upon some rhyming schemes or interesting metaphors that come through the ARabic language only.

6. At the end of the summer, I will have grown in fluency equivalent to two semesters of intensive Arabic study at Notre Dame.

Yep. Cheers to Amman and thank you to everyone who was able to make this happen! Ma’a salama! 🙂

Week Seven in Amman

This is my last week in Amman. I’ve had such a great time through this summer and I am already excited to make it back for another visit. The country is beautiful. The people are beautiful. The food is beautiful. Even the disgusting streets filled with coffee cups and tar are beautiful. I don’t want to fly back to America. But, such is life. I’m surely going to miss my falafel guys. I offered that one of them should come back to America with me and open a falafel shop (I even said he could stay in my dorm… Stanford Hall). It would be incredible business and much better falafel than at the Mediterranean place in the Hesburgh center. He turned me down: usratee ahm mn hatha (my family is more important than this). It was a fair point. Until next time, Amman! 🙂

Week Six in Amman

This week my friends and I hit a local art museum. There was some great stuff in there. A lot of it was focused on the Syrian civil war and the Israeli settler-colonial state. So, while it focused on tragedies, the art maintained a certain beauty that only tragedy can bring: the beauty of raw human emotion and loss. It was incredible witnessing these peoples’ stories through a medium such as art. Even more effective, in my opinion, than listening or reading about the stories. Art, especially in the Arab world, has such a great narrational style which greatly enhances its reception in the public world. I loved this museum: Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.

Week Five in Amman

This past weekend my friends and I took a five hour bus ride to Aqaba with Jett Travel (the Jordanian equivalent of Greyhound). It was a long bus ride with lots of cigarette breaks (all Jordanian men smoke… around 80%… they’re fiends for nicotine!) but we made it with pretty good morale. Upon arriving we went to our Airbnb and immediately went in search for some great food. We stumbled upon the best cafeteria in all of Aqaba. For just 3 JD (around 5USD) the entire group of 8 of us ate falafel and hummus and pita galore. It was incredible. The next day we hit the beach and drank a few beers and smoked some shisha (hookah– all tobacco product). It was incredible to think that we were swimming in a body of water that historically caused one of the most catastrophic Arab wars: War of ’67 (or, in Arabic, al-Naksa… the setback). It was an awesome weekend.

Week Four in Amman

I have learned something quite interesting in the past few days. Only 30% of Jordan’s population is actually originally Jordanian. Everyone else is a smorgasbord of varying Middle Eastern identities and familial roots. For instance, if you ask a taxi driver if he is Jordanian, he smiles and says yes. Then you ask him: “Jordanian Jordanian?” It’s likely he isn’t. Then he’ll specify and say that his a’asl (lineage/descendance) is from Palestine or Syria or etc. It’s pretty awesome that all these people can live together in one country. America should take notes.

Week Three in Amman

This week we started to listen and watch videos in Arabic. I was placed in a level that seems to be more challenging than I had wished. I just keep reminding myself that it’s only a challenge and that’s the most effective way to learn this language. I’ve been using quizlet a lot lately and figured out that you can actually use a ‘learn’ function which makes studying a lot easier and a lot more fun. We visited the Citadel of Amman this weekend which is really cool and beautifully shows the syncretic qualities of a city such as Amman– an important cultural joint in every empire starting with Alexander and still true today with the Hashemite family.

Week Two in Amman

This second week included some more nuanced understanding of Jordanian society as well as a better grip on what the semester of classes was going to be like. For instance, I became best friends with the falafel guys down the street. I’ve been going every day! On top of that, we started pouring through Arabic in my classes (I have four hours of class per day and almost 2-3 hours of homework each night). My friends and I have been exploring some of the malls in the surrounding area. Trust me when I say they’re not like the malls in America. That’s for sure.

Week One in Amman

Hey there! This is Drew signing on after my first week in Amman, Jordan. This week we took to a lot of sightseeing including trekking up the steep hill of Ajloun Castle. It was an incredible experience because we were able to see for miles and on top of the castle (at its highest point) there were signs orienting visitors to main attractions (such as Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem and Aqaba– the beach side city).