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‘You can think about wonder, And wonder what to think, Oh, the things you can think When you’re on the brink

By Dominique Bonessi

With less than a month until my program in Jordan begins, my anxiety has reached its’ peak. So much to do prepare and plan for; I find myself avoiding my first post for fear that I will sound too formal or too anxious or too idealist or digressing in getting to my point—which I have already done.

I have been studying Arabic for three years now and the Middlebury Program at the University of Jordan will advance my Arabic.  If you haven’t heard of the Middlebury Program let me give you an idea of how intense this language program can be.  A friend of mine went to the Middlebury campus in Vermont over the summer after one semester of French and never really being able to learn a language and came out speaking fluent French.  My program is a little different.  I will be living with a host family in Amman, taking four classes entirely in Arabic, and signing a language pledge that says I will only speak, think, read, and write in Arabic.  For the next five months I will be eating, sleeping, living, and breathing completely, 100% in Arabic.

In order to brace myself for what is to come in two weeks and three days I have made the following preparations. First, I have been reviewing my Arabic vocab and grammar so I can place into the proper level for my placement test.  Second, I have downloaded an Arabic language pack on my computer so I can type in Arabic.  This was preceded by making my own stickers to put on my keys in order to learn the Arabic keyboard.  Finally, I have taken the initiative to read news about Jordan in both English and in Arabic in order to keep up with current events.

In addition to the language classes, I am also anxious and excited to live for five months in an Arabic speaking country.  I realize Jordan is probably not the most westernized country there is to study abroad in; therefore, there will be challenges to overcome.  As a side note, I am currently writing to you from the comfort of my friend’s family’s house in Madrid, Spain.  I’ve know them since I was 12 when I came to visit in the summer and this is my fifth trip back to Spain to visit.  Like most of Europe, Spain is modernized there is always some form of transportation to get around, walking around is very easy and safe, and there is little in the way—for me—of a language barrier.  Going from Spain to Jordan maybe like jumping into a pool of ice cold water, where transportation isn’t as simple, walking around my neighborhood may not be safe to do alone, and I have yet to learn conversational Arabic.  These challenges differ from the challenges of my classes as they are more difficult to prepare for because until I arrive in Jordan I don’t like to have expectations.  I only have one, which is to expect the unexpected.