Friday, July 26, 2013


That's my attempt at a transliteration of "I am finished" in Arabic. Since we only even study things IN Arabic, I've realized it's really hard for me to transliterate words. I'll leave that to the linguists...

I took my final exam this afternoon at Alif. It was excruciatingly hard. I have no idea who wrote that exam, but it had nothing to do with pretty much anything we learned all semester. There were only three of us left in class by this point (we slowly lost students during the six weeks) and we just kept looking up in disbelief at how difficult it was. I guessed on a lot of things, and the only part where I felt the Arabic I learned all summer was demonstrated was in the writing section. I zoomed through it and I was impressed with my ability to write a complex essay in Arabic with little hesitancy through the different tenses and with specific vocab. I think my Arabic has improved leaps and bounds in six weeks, and while it was grueling and perhaps the most difficult six weeks of my life, I think coming here was worth it in terms of my academics. In the fall, I'll skip to 5th semester Arabic, and keep going from there. As much as I complain about the intensity of these six weeks, I really do enjoy learning Arabic and I feel like I'm pretty decent at it as well. I was in a class with some students who studied for 2-3 years and I could keep up even though I skipped about 8 chapters in the textbook we are using. I had to do a lot of review with my tutor of those chapters, and I finally felt in the last few weeks I had a good handle on all of the vocab we were using in class. When I walked home from the final, I had a profound sense of accomplishment, and I know Tim shared it in as well as he did a lot of the sacrificing and hard work in maintaining some semblance of domesticity while I was gone for six hours a day.

Now, it's over and we have a few short (but will feel long) days left here in Fez (Fes, whatever). We are so ridiculously excited to head out and get to Germany to spend a few glorious weeks with good friends, and then head over to Belgium, England, and Ireland to fly back to the US and live again in our favorite city thusfar. It's been a heck of a summer, but I think we'll look back on it fondly. And while our kids probably won't remember it, (and if they do, they will probably remember the boring days while I was at school and they were in an apartment with no toys and a TV that was in a language they couldn't understand), I think doing hard things is character-building and I have felt my eyes opening to new truths about humanity as I live in a culture so vastly different from my own. But I won't lie, there were times I contemplated dropping out of grad school because the thought of doing fieldwork for a year in another country seemed so daunting as to not be worth the experience. But there were other times I contemplated the year of fieldwork with excitement and anticipation. We even toyed with the idea of me applying for a job that opened up in Provo doing something that is interesting and flexible and would pay fairly well -- it's a job I almost got several years ago but was hedged out by a MESA graduate. I think now with a Master's degree under my belt and Arabic experience, I could potentially get it, and the idea of moving back to Provo has been appealing at times (the rec center!! the frontrunner!! but ohhhh, the air quality and politics!) We ended up on the side of not applying for the job because we love Madison so much and I'm excited to start school again, but maybe in the middle of January we'll be regretting that decision. When I think about the future and the years and years of grad work ahead of me, it is really daunting and I question the value in it. I do not think that I want a high-stress tenure-track job, which is what most of my colleagues in grad school are going for. But for now, I like school and I seem to be gliding along just fine without sacrificing my well-being or my family's, and while the prospect of a real job with a real salary right now is appealing, I know that in the long-run getting a PhD will open up way more doors for work opportunities both in the US and abroad, especially if I continue my Arabic study.


  1. Congratulations! I've really enjoyed reading about your summer. What you guys are doing is really impressive!

  2. Wow, I can't believe how fast your Arabic is coming along. Good luck with your life decisions. It is tough striking a balance, but in the end, you can't predict what will happen and you have to do both--sacrifice for the future AND enjoy the moment.