Marhaban (“Hello”)! My name is Alex Ennes and I’m a rising junior at Temple studying English with minors in Arabic and Criminal Justice – I’m also blogging for Temple during my summer in Morocco! I leave in just a week and I can’t wait to get on my plane. This summer, I’ll be living in a homestay in the city of Rabat and I’m itching to meet my host family. Although I’m excited, I’ve recently felt a little nervous about speaking Arabic on a regular basis. I’ve had great prep (four semesters worth!) but it’s intimidating to commit to living in a country where it’s spoken on the regular. I’m nervous about learning Darija, the colloquial dialect in Morocco, but I’m sure the transition from FusHa (modern standard Arabic) will be easy enough. All of my thinking about using Arabic this summer has led me to remembering why I chose the language in the first place…
If you’re a Liberal Arts student at Temple, you know the three-course language requirement for a liberal arts degree very well. I took Latin in high school and thought about continuing in college, but I figured I would start new. I didn’t really have a reason for choosing Arabic. I thought it looked and sounded pretty, and I figured it would be useful in a professional environment. I knew it would be hard, but I love learning languages and I figured that Arabic would present a good challenge – turns out, I was right!
Even though I didn’t have much of a reason for choosing Arabic, I absolutely fell in love with the language. I’m so grateful that I chose to learn this language, not only because of the incredible professors I’ve had, but also because it has opened my knowledge about Middle Eastern and North African culture. This last semester (Spring 2017), I took a class on the intersection of art and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly during the Arab Spring. I absolutely loved that class because it taught me so much about the art and culture associated with the region. If you had asked me in high school, I wouldn’t have cared much about Middle Eastern and North African affairs, but now I find myself researching them regularly and consuming as much literature, art, and film I can find on Arab culture!
Culture may be what I’m most excited for this summer. I’m an English major, so it would have been easy for me to study abroad in England, Scotland, or Ireland where I could have learned about British literature or done some work on my poetry concentration, but I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone and explore an entirely new culture. Because of how different American culture is from Moroccan culture, I expect that I’ll learn a lot and grow more as a person by stepping outside of the “Western” world. Even though immersing myself in an entirely different language and society is intimidating, I’m excited to start my journey. Hopefully I’ll return with a brand new understanding of the Arabic language and Moroccan culture.
My next post will be coming to you straight from Rabat, so get ready for a summer full of fun (and lots of hummus)! Until next time!