Hi all! It's my pleasure to welcome you to my blog about the Cornell Intensive Arabic Program. We 5 Cornellians arrived in Amman about two weeks ago, and have been in a flurry of activity ever since. I suppose I should start with a basic description of this half of the IAP, the first half having been an intensive study of the Arabic language on campus in Ithaca.
I live in a dorm for female students in northwest Amman, and commute each day by bus to Philadelphia University, which is about 30 minutes away on the road between Amman and Jerash. Each of us has an Arab language partner with whom we share a suite consisting of two bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom and a small kitchen. The two male students live in an apartment across the street from our dorm with their language partners. The living situation is exceptional and the people here are very accommodating and hospitable.
My roommate/language partner's name is Arwa Amin, and she is a Palestinian national who's family lives in the United Arab Emirates. She's super nice and is extremely helpful in the learning process, teaching me colloquial expressions and cultural norms which can't really be learned in a classroom. The first semester of classes is just now ending for the local students, so they have two weeks of vacation at the moment, and Arwa went to visit her family in the UAE. Some of the girls in the dorm are staying here over the break, so we (me, Caitlin and Susannah) have plenty of people to hang out with. The dorm closes at 10pm every night, so we spend our nights eating dinner, drinking tea, swapping Arab and American card games, watching Arabic soap operas, and following the news about the recent political developments in the region.
We started classes last week, and it is worth mentioning that Sunday is the first day of the week here - Friday and Saturday are the weekend. Our schedule is organized as follows:
9-10am Arabic Media(NES 3207)
10-11am Introduction to Jordanian Society (NES 3213)
(Both of these classes are taught by Cornell's own Doctor Hanada Al-Masri)
11am-12pm Break for lunch
12-1pm Arab Islamic Thought (NES 4205, a philosophy-based class with Philadelphia's Doctor Yusef Rababa)
The total course load adds up to 16 credits, all of which count towards the NES major and some of which also fulfill distribution requirements for members of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Wednesdays are reserved for activities outside the University which pertain to our study of Jordanian society, such as visits to various divisions of the Jordanian government, NGOs, and basically any place we are interested in learning about. We are asked to prepare weekly reports on these activities, as well as bring relevant and incisive questions to our destination so we can engage our hosts in intellectually stimulating conversation. Hanada and Dr. Rababa organize these trips for us, but we travel and explore the sites without professor supervision and guidance. This Wednesday we will be traveling to the National Center for Human Rights.
In our free time there is a plethora of things to do here, and most of them involve either food or exercise (a good combination in my opinion). We have already visited downtown Amman several times, but every time we go there seems to be more to see. The city is one of huge proportions, and the region of Greater Amman houses more than half of Jordan's >6 million citizens. Some of our adventures have included visits to the Roman Citadel, Hashim Restaurant (famous for its amazing hummous and fava beans, as well as attendance by the late King Hussein, peace be upon him, and his family), the insanely rich neighborhood of Abdoun, several notable cafes, a handful of mosques, and a whole lot of street shawarma stands. The exercise side of the equation is simple: Amman is nestled into a bunch of mountains. The city is very much a vertical one with more stairs than I can begin to count, though it's no problem because we're all used to the rolling hills of Ithaca.
Alas, I must now return to my studies, but there is surely more to come in the next 4 months. Feel free to friend me on Facebook if you would like to see my entire collection of pictures, as I will only be posting choice photos/videos on this site. I highly recommend this program to any prospective students! I am extremely pleased with the results of the IAP so far, and I'm sure the best is yet to come. Questions and comments are encouraged, and if anyone would like more information about the program, feel free to email me at email@example.com.