Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Back to School/ الى المدرسة

This past August, I got a new backpack and a bus pass, and headed back into the classroom, as a student, for the first time in well over a decade. I'm studying Arabic and medieval Arabic manuscripts, and taking classes in history and art history, so that I can read medieval Arabic scientific manuscripts, like this one: 
كتاب سرّ الاسرار
Kitab sirr al-asrar, ca. 1200, Mosul. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania,
LJS 459, fol. 114v.
Being back in class as a student--and a beginner, at that--has been fantastic, with benefits that I had not anticipated. Here's what I've learned so far: 

1) Sitting in a class and focusing for 80 minutes is difficult and exhausting. If you teach, you need to be aware of this. Sitting in class is far more taxing than teaching a class, even though teaching is often an intense activity. Thank god my language teachers are always getting us to move around and talk to each other. 
2) Traditional-age college students are awesome. I love getting to interact with them as my fellow classmates, rather than as their professor. The anxiety and stress they feel about "will it/will I turn out okay?" is real. And it turns out that being in class with a bunch of whip-smart 18-year-olds keeps me on my toes. Which leads me to... 
3) Learning something completely new is unbelievably invigorating. Yes, it's tiring, and sometimes frustrating and a grind, but it is also the best ever. It's exciting and exhilarating to stretch your brain in new ways. 
4) Arabic is an incredibly fun language to study, especially if you like aural or visual patterns, and incredibly rewarding grammatical structure. Persian, next? 

What will you be learning? 


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