School is rough going this quarter. I was so excited about my classes last quarter – well… if I think about it, I was really excited about ONE class but it was enough to make the entire quarter exciting. I was also really excited about the major I had switched over to. This quarter is pretty lackluster, save for my Arabic class. I had complained about how much reading I was doing quarter but I realized it’s not very much. I was doing so much more reading and work in last quarter’s “City of the Future” class but it didn’t matter because that class was amazing.
I’m frustrated because all I want to do is focus on Arabic all day but I have two other classes that have been pretty boring. The boring classes take up a lot of time though, given how little time I actually devote to Arabic each day, I’m doing pretty well! I briefly debated taking the formal German class next quarter, along with Arabic, so that I had to language classes (which I always love and are exciting) and then would only have to do one (potentially) “boring” class. I was sold on this idea for awhile but I want to have time to really immerse myself in Arabic and build a solid foundation for the next two years. So, it’s really best to hold off on the German until I have a full year of Arabic under my belt. It’s hard to wait, but I still work on German at home a little bit, just so that I don’t forget what I DO know.
So now I’m debating whether to take two or three classes next quarter. I’d love to just take two because, as I said, I want time to really focus on Arabic. I want this to be a useable skill and I want to immerse. But taking two classes feels like a financial waste since you pay the same tuition whether it’s two or three classes. (The administration likes to convince you that it’s a deal – think of it as getting one “free” class but come on. That’s not making anyone feel any better. It’s a rip off. If I’m only taking two classes, I want to pay less tuition! But I digress.) So for now I’m registered for Arabic 102 and two other classes. One of them is with a teacher who I’ve heard speak at a lecture and was immediately scanning schedules for classes he’d be teaching in Winter. He was a really engaging and interesting speaker. I’m hoping that class will hold my attention. The third class… has potential to be interesting but I’m still deciding whether to do two or three.
In any case. Arabic! العربية! I have sooooooooo much to learn yet but it’s still kind of amazing when I look at my notebook and see pages full of sentences and words I’ve written in Arabic. It’s so rewarding, for some reason more so than when I started learning Russian or Japanese and conquered those alphabets. Maybe it’s because I know I’ll be taking two years of Arabic and am hoping to use the language in some capacity. (Though I heard people speaking Russian the other day and I found myself thinking, “Hmm… maybe I’ll take up Russian again!” I’ll be honest, I love the reaction I get when I say I’m learning Arabic. But for the next couple years, I’m sticking to Arabic and German.)
On one hand, I can’t believe how quickly it became second nature to read from right to left. It’s automatic with Arabic. On the other hand… I suspect that’s part of why Arabic is so hard to grasp, at times – the right to left SEEMS easy but it’s still something my brain is having to maneuver around. The grammar that I’ve heard about might have scared me had I not already dealt with grammar. Czech did a great job of preparing me for any other language I attempt to learn because I hadn’t known about the insanity of cases and three genders until I started learning. Being IN the Czech Republic and being immersed in it made it seem easier. So by the time I finally took a crack at German it was a piece of cake. And then when I got to Arabic, it wasn’t the grammar that worried me (still isn’t), it’s just trying to grasp words and meanings of a language that is so extraordinarily different from anything I’ve ever encountered.
Punctuation is… not confusing, but just odd. Commas and question marks are written “backwards”. There is no capitalizing (at least, at this point in my learning we haven’t seen any.) Because of learning German and Arabic, I want to capitalize every other word in English and write it all backwards!