Monthly Archives: December 2010

You Know You Need a Break When…

I could easily finish the above sentence in 10 different ways right now. I’ve been sick for a week, I’ve started to become short tempered and frustrated in class, my email inbox is backed up etc. etc.. Though I could complain that my last day of class was December 21st, I am so excited to be heading home tomorrow and to be finally getting that break.

But you really know you need a break when… you start to catch students drinking in your dreams. I have been very busy in my dreams the past week – in addition to teaching a chemistry class (which is not something I do in my waking life) I have caught three different students in two separate dreams drinking. Now, I’m not all that surprised that students pop up in my dreams – I’ve heard that you dream about whatever you were thinking about right before you went to sleep, and apart from having an all consuming job that I think about pretty much 24-7, I tend to grade right before I go to sleep (which explains why I would have had a few students in mind as I drifted off to sleep). But I am surprised that I caught them drinking, because thankfully that’s something I’ve never had to do in real life, nor is it something I think about often. At the risk of sounding like a total creep, I mentioned this to one of the dream-drinkers and he had the best comeback, delivered with the goofiest grin: “Sir, that must have been a dream because that’s so far from reality.”

I’m looking forward to a week and a half full of dreams filled with queso, family, tap water, exercising, friends and relaxing, which sounds a lot more restful than being on the lookout for underage drinking all night.

Welcome to the Future

Evidence that yes, we are currently living in the future:

One of my Calculus students injured himself pretty badly (broke his foot/leg) over the last break, and hasn’t been able to return to school. He is currently limping around his house with an old man walker. Instead of getting behind in all his classes, he decided that he is going to Skype into every single one of his classes. Every day, I set up the computer facing the board, call him on Skype, say hi, then start the class. He watches what’s going on and sometimes even asks questions. Though not the same as being there, he is keeping up with Calculus class…. from a few thousand kilometers away in Saudi Arabia. Every time I call him up at the beginning of the class I get this mental image of me teaching in 20 years to a room full of computer screens facing my direction. I’m not too sure how I will scold them for talking to their neighbor, but maybe that wont be a problem because their neighbor will actually be thousands of kilometers away.

And then this past Sunday, as part of our “Spirit Week” festivities, we had a Wii competition in our gym. So instead of playing real sports in the place that we are supposed to play real sports, we set up huge screens with projectors and had three Wiis going at once, one for a boxing tournament, one for a ping pong tournament, and one for Dance Dance Revolution. There were boxing gloves and a ping pong table literally in the next room over, but instead of doing that we watched people wave around white wands, which made digital people on the screen play sports that we didn’t really feel like playing in real life. Needless to say, it was very fun. The future is fun.

I can’t even imagine the type of crazy things that our kids will be doing when the future (part 2) comes around.

Sir Bowman Dickson The Respected

One of my fellow teachers from last year is getting married in a week and I was lucky enough to be invited to the wedding. I feel pretty lucky to be invited, especially because I will be one of the only non-native Arabic speakers there. I will have to let my dancing skills speak for me. The wedding invitation is one of the coolest things I have ever received though. It is addressed to “السيد بومان ديكسون المحترم (El-Sayyid Booomaaaan Deeeeksoooon El-Mu7taram) which basically translates to “Sir Bowman Dickson The Respected”. That title is definitely a first for me.

The Airport: Where I Obtain Friends

We’re starting up Arabic classes for the ex-pat faculty on Wednesday and I’m so excited! It is amazing how quickly a foreign language fades when you don’t have consistent exposure (which I don’t get inside of our English bubble). Add the growing rustiness to the fact that I speak this strange combination of colloquial and formal Arabic… I can’t wait to continue my formal Arabic education, and especially add to my functional Arabic, which can be pretty hilariously slightly off at times.

Take for example a recent Arabic slip up at the airport. There are many places in Jordan where they have checkpoints along the road, which usually consist of a police officer asking you where you are going. They barely listen to your answer before saying “Okay, go ahead.” Very tight security. The funny one is at the road that leads into the airport (and goes nowhere else). Where are you going? Uh, the airport… Okay, go ahead. Well, I tried to be fancy one time and speak to them in Arabic. I was going to pick up a friend coming back into town so I tried to express this to them with my rusty language skills. I couldn’t think on the spot a word for “pick up” so I tried “get” but the “get” word I used was a more formal Arabic word which means more “to obtain” than to get. So, what I said was “I’m going to obtain friends at the airport.” They immediately began laughing, and corrected me. When I got into the airport, I thought about making some new friends just so I would have been telling the truth 10 minutes earlier.

Pumped for classes to start. I would love to come home from this experience with solid language skills.


Jordanian Helpfulness

I have found that Jordan is a wonderful place to live as a foreigner. The general public is just so helpful whenever I need to do a routine task for which I would know exactly where to go in the US but have absolutely no idea here. Case in point: last night I had yet another car issue. Since we got the car in February, I have seriously maimed the body of the car not once but twice, I learned the Arabic words for flat tire the hard way, and then last night, I ran over a piece of hard black plastic that was sitting on the black road back to school late in the black night which conveniently detached part of the bumper. Strange that I didn’t see it. I share the car with two other people and neither has had a single issue unless you count refilling the wiper fluid, which tells me there’s some sort of bad mojo between me and the Corolla.

So today, I went into Madaba to try to get the bumper fixed. I went to the gas station where I got a 3 JD ($4.20), hour long, inside and outside hand car wash because I had no other ideas of where to go (and I like those guys!). I pulled up and asked in Arabic if they could fix my (blank… didn’t know the word for bumper). The guy said yes, yes, we fix that and called over two guys that were sitting on the curb. I thought that perhaps these were the body work specialists, but when they came up to the car, they opened the door and hopped in. I thought in my head, ADVENTURE! Let’s go! So I hopped in too, and asked what was going on. We can fix your bumper but not here (which technically means you can’t fix my bumper, but I also don’t know how to say technically in Arabic, so I let that point slide).

We pulled out of the gas station and they directed me for 5-7 minutes or so driving around the little town. We didn’t really talk, or play any car games, just drove. We got to a sketchy little garage with very busted cars strewn around a parking lot, and they called the guy over. He unscrewed part of the bumper, kicked it three times to get it back in the right place, screwed it back in, and charged my 3 JD (1 JD per kick, probably). Then, my friends and I hopped back in, I dropped them back off at the gas station, and before I bid them farewell, one made me put his number in my phone. Thanks Zaid!

The great part was that I felt not an ounce of distrust in the situation. Stuff like this has happened so many times. How weird would I have felt in some other country when two strange dudes got into my car with little to no explanation and told me to drive somewhere? And when we got to the body shop, after we got out of the car, the guy wanted me to pull my car around, so one of my two new car buddies grabbed my keys from me, hopped in and did it for me. How easily he could have driven away with our leased car that I share with two other people.

What an awesome feeling to have my helplessness counteracted with Jordanian helpfulness. So if you’re having car troubles, just let me know – I have the number of a great guy to help you out.