I have hit a rhythm now with my research. I had a little hiccup this week since I caught a stomach bug and had to stay home an extra day because the servee ride to the university makes me carsick on a good day! But I have successfully had 8 observations days, with multiple classes each day, and 4 on-the-record interviews. Considering I didn’t really get to “start” until September 24, I’m counting that as a win.
My day starts (Monday-Thursday) by heading to the university for my Conversation Arabic class. It meets from 8-10 four days a week. We live kinda on the other end of town, so I get the kids up at 6:30, feed them, repack their backpacks, get lunch and then head out the door at 7:00 am. I take a servee (3 shekels/$.75) to the center of town and walk about 5-7 minutes to the bus/servee pickup.
Here is where it gets interesting. I need a picture of this too. There are two choices. 1) You can take a charter bus for 3.5 shekels. Downside here is you have to wait for the charter bus to fill up. OR 2) You can take a yellow van servee (each seats between 6-7 + driver) for 4.5 shekels. The upside on the servee is that it is faster to get there. They zip in and out while the bus lumbers a bit more. The downside is that probably 100 people are fighting for the same servees at any given time unless you are really early. I have done both. Lately I have been tired of fighting so I take the bus.
Also, I realized that if I get to the street where the servees pick up by 7:05ish then I arrive to the university at 7:45. If I don’t get there until 7:15 it is 8:15 to arrive. IF I arrive at 7:45 I have time to stop and grab a cup of hot tea to take to class. Since I don’t have time to drink tea at home no matter WHAT time I leave, this makes me happy.
<Another side note: I was promised to drink a lot of tea while I was here. I am disappointed. I think my tea consumption has dropped dramatically because in America I make a full pot of tea every morning at school and finish it usually during 2nd block. Of course, this depends on how busy the day is. A lot of days it gets reheated many times and never drank! Plus, there is zero iced tea!>
Meeting four days a week is great for language learning, but not so hot for research. I have been lucky that I have been able to schedule almost all of my interviews/observations post-10:30. I missed 3 days so far since I began on the 20th of September (Two this week unfortunately because of the aforesaid illness). The class is going fair. I’m not saying it is going well. I missed the first 2 weeks when basically everyone learned the “Hi, How are you, I’m fine” part of the conversational class. So I’m still completely lost in that part. I conjugate just fine, but there are a LOT of conjugations so I still struggle through remembering when to use each one. I figure it took me 10+ years to learn conversational Spanish from my students (although I only speak in present tense) so I have another 12 left in my teaching career to learn Arabic! <just kidding> I’m making progress though. The problem with being a language teacher is that you self-assess your progress all the time. “Oh! You are able to respond back without thinking! Good job!” All in all, I consider it an improvement over the time I took Chinese and Dan and I were the last non-Asian people left in the room at the end of the summer. In my class now, everyone doing worse than me has dropped. So I guess I LOOK bad, but really I’m just persistent!
After class I hit the servee again to head to one of my schools. Right now I have 4 (as of yesterday) that I have strong connections at, two private schools and two public schools. I usually try to visit 2-3 days a week and spend the rest of the days typing up and doing internet research for my projects. I have visited on Saturdays and Sunday mornings also if I can get in. The schools here all have different weekends. If the school is predominately Muslim the weekend is often Friday and Saturday. However, if the school has more Christian students, they make the weekend Friday and Sunday. My kids have Friday and Sunday and it is really hard to get used to. I rarely know what day it is towards the end of the week and I ALWAYS forget about homework for Saturday!
Some days I get home to walk and pick the kids up from school (2:20).
When I get home depends on when the teachers have off blocks and how far away the school is. If I’m not around, Dan goes by himself.
Evenings we are really busy! I always tease my sister and sister-in-law for having such busy social calendars. Well, I’ve got one now! Two days a week the kids go home with friends and get back about 7-8 pm. Sometimes we go with them. One night a week they have tutoring at our home. One night we have church. We usually go exploring somewhere on Fridays. In Mississippi, we are home by 5 at the latest every night and only do things on Saturdays. During soccer season, we have practice nearly every night for an hour and that just about does me in by the end of the season! But we are only here 4 months and we are making the most of it!
However, I can’t lie and not admit that I look forward to going home where the farthest I go after work is my mom’s house or Sonic!