One Month of Arabic

After wrapping up a month of intensive Arabic studies at the Qasid Institute, I can safely say this was one of the most inspiring trips of my life. Not only did I improve my Arabic, the other students at Qasid are brilliant, and I've become great friends with a few Jordanians in only a month as well.

When I first arrived at Qasid, my speaking ability was limited to forming pretty simple nominative sentences ("I like to study Arabic"), and now I'm confident in crafting more qualified and complex sentences, particularly with the specifics of the grammar. According to the program I followed, I've advanced from beginner-high (A2 on the CFER scale) to intermediate-mid (B2), which I'm very happy with.

My class schedule ran from 1-5pm, with two teachers for every two hours, and a 10 minute break every hour. It's important to emphasize how much you hit the ground running, my first homework required me to memorize ~40 new words, the scope of which I didn't grasp at first. I made some notable adjustments within the second week in order to help:

  1. Write an essay (~100 words), and rewrite it every day. This will help with spelling and memorization.
  2. Flashcards, and flashcards some more. It cannot be stressed how much the vocab for Arabic is never-ending.
  3. A specific notebook just for vocabulary. I went through it forwards once in before bed, and once backwards when I woke up. This got a little unweidly when the notebook got large, however.
  4. Fully voweling in fusha helps tremendously. You can pick out the direct objects of verbs, which then let you unwrap the sentence structure far quicker.

Qasid itself is a small school, roughly 3 floors situated in the middle of a neighborhood called "Sports City", although the area itself is pretty residential and lacks a nightlife. However, the people that the Qasid program attracts far than makes up for it, I met a woman who had done extensive work with the UN and UNICEF, masters students who were in the same place in life as me, as well as PhD students working on fascinating areas of study (one is currently doing research on how physical spaces interact with the political).

All things rounded out, the total cost came to roughly 5k, but I spent ~3.8k on the private classes alone. I've been told this cost is significantly reduced if you follow the traditional two month program as well.

One delightful thing about Jordan is how friendly everyone is (to men), and the fact that it's relatively easy to get around between Uber/Careem/taxi. There's tons of nightlife stuff to do, such as a variety of different bars (Tequila Tuesday…), and the collaborative nature of Qasid made it really easy to make friends, despite the fact that I was pursuing an independent study program.

A specific note on the housing, I took a studio with an Airbnb for 500 a month, which while adequate, left a few things to be desired. I also didn't cook as much as I had originally hoped, and gave up around halfway through, resorting to eating a falafel/2 fried eggs for lunch and anything with my friends for dinner. It's also useful to join expat Facebook groups for Amman, a large number of deals can be found.

I also made time to visit Ramallah, Ajloun Castle, and the Aqaba/Wadi Rum/Petra circuit, which I would highly recommend to anyone. In the future I'd like to hit up the Dead Sea on the Jordanian side as well as Wadi Mujib.

In the future I'm definitely coming back, perhaps to either the Sijal Arabic Institute, the Middlebury Institute at the University of Jordan, or Qasid again. I wasn't aware of other programs before I came to Qasid, but I've heard that Qasid is the most intensive out of all of these.

Posted: 2019-07-09
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