Thursday, March 20, 2008

Arabic Huis Clos

Language classes set their own tone, and ours is undeniably one of extreme goofiness. This is quite a blessing when you're sitting with the same 3 people 5 hours a day for 44 weeks with no break: if you're not feeling entertained, then you're basically participating in a Jean-Paul Sartre play. Comic relief is the best defense against existential language despair.

I like our teacher. She's the only person I've ever met whose cheeks move independently of one another when she talks. I find myself getting distracted by her face even as my notebook fills up with random Arabic words I'll never review. Today I dutifully copied down the words for 'red', 'black', 'white'... Some brave soul (not me) ventured "How do you say 'blue'?" The teacher's eyes narrowed. "Oh, so now you want to know 'blue'. Next you'll want to know 'purple' and then 'yellow' and then 'orange' and then you'll want to know ALL the meanings of ALL the words." The four of us exchanged conspiritorial glances. She was on to us. The teacher held firm. "You take 'red'; you're not ready for 'blue'."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Comparative Studies

According to an ad in The Washington Post, I could train to become a massage therapist in seven months. In nine months I could become a veterinary technician; in six months, a dental assistant. The total cost of the dental assistantship program? $898, and I can take all the classes online.

According to my FSI training schedule, in ten months I might be able to hold a very basic Arabic conversation. I'm not sure what Arabic training costs, but I imagine it's a bit more than $898.

Personally speaking, I would welcome a 'Massage Therapy' cone in the Foreign Service.