If you’re an Arabist, or have any knowledge of the Arabic language, you’ll already know one thing about it: it is hard. It boasts 10 different verb forms, a “dual” function, fun things called broken plurals, “specification”, how clauses, case endings, wacky sentence structures and many more nuggets of annoyance for the intrepid learner.
Taken as a whole however, the Arabic language is home to some of the greatest literature in the world: tribal Arabian poetry dating back to pre-Islam, scientific and medicinal journals that far outpaced the Western World for centuries, architectural designs from all over the middle east and, of course, God’s holy word revealed in Arabic.
Not only is the language itself a treasure trove of intellectual thought and culture, refined and almost unchanged after 1400 years, the Middle East has long been considered the birthplace of world religion, and more recently, the epicentre of a cultural revolution or two.
Even more impressive, and slightly more tangibly, it is also extremely cool to write (a great addition to the party trick repertoire) and fantastically fun to speak. With all this in mind, embarking on a year abroad over here is likely to be quite an undertaking, even if it is to the safest and – arguably – tamest country in the region: Jordan.
Known for its rich cultural history – Alexander the Great passed through, leaving ruins that still remain some 3000 years later, not to mention one of the 7 wonders of the world, Petra – and religious importance – the sites of the Burning Bush and Jesus’ Christening are both very near the capital, – Jordan has a lot going for it! But rather than quote from Lonely Planet, I’m going to tell a few stories – in installments, hamdulillah – about my time there so far.