I look out the window of the small room where I am sit at the limestone buildings that surround me. The room feels more like a prison. I think about jumping out the window and running away until I remember that I am on the fourth floor, that won’t work. Guess I am stuck. I reluctantly turn back to my computer screen, you see it’s the first day of my fourth month study aboard in Amman, Jordan and I am being forced to take a placement exam, which I already know will condemn me to be in the stupid class. So what’s the point I tell myself, can’t I just cut my losses and get a falafel sandwich at the shop around the corner?
I asked myself why I even started studying Arabic in the first place, I couldn’t answer that question(now sure I could now either), all I knew is that sitting in my 11th grade social studies class learning about Islam a spark was lit in the back of my head with an idea that said, “You should learn Arabic and study Islam.” That spark grew for years until I was sitting in my prison cell blankly staring at this exam. It was a computerized exam and I knew this heartless machine would show no mercy; it would destroy me.
I felt an immense pressure to do well on this test because if I didn’t make into the “smart class” I wouldn’t learn Arabic and this entire study aboard would have been pointless, a wasted experience that didn’t benefit me at all. Just as I was about to fall into full-blown depression a thought came to mind. I have my entire life to learn Arabic; this experience is just one step on my road to Arabic mastery.
I didn’t feel like I was in prison anymore. I stopped worrying about the test. I was able to accept my level of skill in Arabic, even if it was much lower then others on the program. Even if I was to end up in the dumb class that was my level and my teachers would help me to rise from that level. I thought I have the rest of my life to master Arabic; I can’t do it in these 4 short months but as long as I am better at the end of the program then I am now, I have been successful.
Today in class my teacher talked about commitment. He said that after about 5 years of marriage you start to wonder why you married that person and if you really love them but you have made a commitment to that person so you stay with it. Once you get through that low point the love you have for that person is great then you ever could have imagined. I have never even been close to marriage so I’ll just have to take his word for it, but I feel that is my relationship with Arabic. I have made a commitment to learn Arabic, sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing and what my future holds but I know that if I hold fast to my commitment to learn Arabic I will come out the other side a better person whether Arabic has anything to do with my future or not.