Written by Hannah Mouradian (American University), Student Correspondent for CET Jordan: Intensive Language, Spring 2020
From feeling the most excitement, the most nervousness, to the most frustrated, I am overwhelmed with the mix of emotions I have already experienced here in Amman. I am trying to allow myself to feel these emotions to their fullest extent. Some of these feelings will fade, in fact, I am working hard to ensure that they are not permanent. In a few weeks, hopefully I will never feel the same gut wrenching nervousness I feel now when I want to say something in Arabic or make a joke with a native Arabic speaker. Similarly, I probably will not feel the same excitement in the future when my friends ask if I want to go to the Citadel, downtown, or a different area of the city, as these places will be familiar to me.
Though, there is one feeling I am trying to preserve throughout my time here: gratitude. It has been easy, and tempting, to get caught up in the frustration of fully trying to keep the language pledge and not knowing how to express myself. Being thankful by appreciating the small things and not being upset with myself for struggling is a lofty goal of mine. The way I see it, I have two pledges. One is the Arabic language pledge, and the other is the gratitude pledge. One example of this was the first few days in Amman. The not-so ideal rainy weather set us up to even further appreciate the blue sky and sunlight, the most vibrant sunsets, and the clearest view of the stars from right outside our apartment. A few nights this past week my friends and I have stopped for some time to admire the stars above us before we part ways for the night.
Another gratitude victory was reading aloud a children’s book at a cafe on Rainbow Street. Although some of us were bold and bought our favorite English language books translated to Arabic, we were still humble enough to realize that a children’s book is closer to our language level than The Alchemist or 1984. As my friends sounded out the letters, forming simple Arabic words, we laughed at our poor pronunciation and made lighthearted jokes about how younger children can read a book like this one better than we can.
Truthfully, I have already broken these two pledges, but I am trying very hard to maintain them and I have so much for which I am grateful — a supportive family, a wonderful group of friends in Amman, a challenging yet encouraging Arabic program, and a welcoming host country. Until next time, masalama ((مع سلامة meaning bye in Arabic, or as my friends say, my salami.