لحَمْد للها means “Alhamdulillah!” which literally means “praise God!” “God” figures quite largely within the Arabic language, but I (and many Arabic speakers) are atheists so in that case it’s an exclamation of joy, for example: I’m feeling better – Alhamdulillah! The bus showed up on time – Alhamdulillah! I found some chocolate in the cabinet – Alhamdulillah! Or, in the case now… when I saw that grades were posted for the quarter, specifically my grade for Arabic 101, I exclaimed “Alhamdulillah!”
I knew that I did well enough but I wound up with a 3.9 or the quarter (that’s out of 4.0). I was expecting (or preparing myself) for less. I’m trying really hard to let go being the overachieving, 4.0 student but I still get a thrill out of making the Dean’s List, having a 3.9 overall GPA overall and for having done so well in the class that was most important to me (Arabic.)
Winter quarter has begun and I’m now in my second quarter of Arabic. Unlike the more popular languages such as Spanish, French, etc, Arabic has very few sections. I could have taken German 101 last quarter, skipped a couple of quarters, and then picked right back up with 102 a few quarters later. Not so with Arabic. You have to take the entire year sequence or forfeit everything you already did – meaning I could not take Arabic 101 and skip a few quarters before taking 102. 101 is ONLY offered in the Fall, 102 in Winter, and 103 in Spring. And since I chose to take section C, I have to stick to the exact same section (meaning same time) each quarter. I didn’t know that when I first registered last quarter. I had really wanted to take my required Junior Colloquium class with the teacher I had for City of the Future a couple of quarters ago (that class rocked my world and the teacher is amaaaaazing) but couldn’t because it was the same time as Arabic. I’m bummed about missing it BUT I am really psyched about taking a year of Arabic with the same group of students all year. I really love my Arabic group and it was such a nice feeling to walk into class for the new quarter knowing I’d be seeing all the same people. Major warm fuzzies there.
I’m still struggling a little bit with using Arabic as naturally at home, in daily life, as I had done with German or Czech or any other language I’ve learned but it’s getting better. As my vocabulary grows, I’m finding it easier to work Arabic into my routine. It’s an important part of learning language for me, making it feel natural. I’m still resorting to German, Czech, and Spanish words at times. As part of my attempt to adapt Arabic to every day use, I plan on starting to write some more here – even if just simple sentences that seem useless. It’s good practice. I’m getting better a the Arabic keyboard, too!
Also, I was waffling pretty hard about whether to take three classes this quarter or cut back to two. I had registered for the full three with the intention of attending all three classes during the first week and see how I felt. Arabic is every day and the other two classes were on Mon/Wed. When Wednesday rolled around and I looked at my schedule, I simply didn’t have the energy to manage the schedule that day (one hour break and then essentially 4 straight hours of class until dinner time.) So then and there I dropped the other class and had a few moments of panic before moving on to have a glorious afternoon. I left Arabic and, with three hours to kill, I hopped the light rail to my beloved Pioneer Square where I got some lunch at London Plane and worked on my Arabic vocabulary for the week. Then I hopped back on the light rail and headed back to school for my (now) second class.
Midway through this second class, as we reviewed the syllabus, I felt an incredible sense of relief. This second class – Immigration and Displacement with a teacher I’d been eager to take a class with – will be incredible, I’m sure. I think it’s going to be up there with my City of the Future Class (which is the best class I can ever remember taking.) HOWEVER… as with the City of the Future class, the amount of reading required is bordering on insane. (I’m a really fast reader, I don’t know how people do it who are not fast readers.) The reading is worth it and really interesting but… SO. MUCH. READING. My goal this quarter is to really focus on Arabic and had I kept the third class, that goal would have been shot to hell. (It was a class that would have also required a ton of reading.)
This year – on a personal note – ended on a pretty hellish note. Politically and personally, that is. Honestly, I needed a break and needed to enjoy school again. Aside from Arabic, the last quarter left me feeling somewhat deflated. But… BUT. This year is already promising to pick back up. I am a firm believer in learning from bad experiences and mistakes and I’ve always been willing to tackle things head on. We are most definitely making lemonade from the lemons that have rained down on us, things are shaping up to be better than ever (personally), school is exciting again, Husband’s business is doing pretty phenomenally, and… well, there’s another possibility on the horizon that I think I’m going to stay quiet about until it’s a done deal. I’m not even sure how I feel about it yet although, given my desire to keep it close to my chest I’d say I’m pretty excited about the prospect. I’ll know more by the end of February…!