Saturday, February 9, 2008

Week One

Usually the first week of classes at any university is short and mild, what I would call “syllabus week.” You don’t have much to do, and you aren’t given anything to do either. You can procrastinate without regret and, if you feel motivated enough, chip away at internship applications for the summer. I wish this was the case for me this semester. I jumped right into things as both of my Arabic teachers wasted no time diving into the material. This left me scrambling the first couple days as I was trying to finish my homework in addition to solving some start-of-semester business matters.

I’m taking a lot of Arabic. My accelerated intermediate Arabic class meets for 10 hours a week and moves rapidly through the al-Kitaab textbook. There’s no messing around. I’m also in a media Arabic class that meets three hours per week and covers vocabulary and styles commonly found in written and oral news media. Although the class will be challenging, it will definitely pay off in the end as I’m most interested in using Arabic for professional purposes, not for colloquial conversation.

My other two classes are in the political science department. One is titled “Arab Political and Social Thought” and covers topics such as Arab nationalism, 20th century socialist movements, and the resurgence of Islamism. The professor is the chair of the political science department and seems very good. My final class is a development seminar that meets once a week for two and a half hours, but unfortunately the class was cancelled on the first day, and we will meet next Wednesday night.

I look forward to a great semester. Based on my first impressions, my professors will be much better than last semester, and it will be reflected in an increased command of the Modern Standard Arabic and a better understanding of Middle Eastern politics.

The first week went by very quickly, and I think the semester will be over before I know it. It feels good getting back into the swing of things. I have a lot of friends here from last semester, and we already had a get-together to celebrate a birthday. Semester two has proven infinitely easier than semester one, and that is a huge relief.

No comments: