My name is Matt (or Mat-ta here in Egypt because the word mat in Arabic means dead) Erdahl and I am spending a semester in Alexandria, Egypt in order to learn Arabic. I am originally from Chaska, Minnesota, about 6,000 miles from where I am now. Even though I’m majoring in political science and psychology, and not a language, I chose to study in Alexandria for the chance to learn Arabic.
My only past experience with the language comes from the one month class offered at Gustavus. First, Gustavus students, take this class. It is one truly rewarding J-term and might inspire you to learn a beautiful language that should be more common in the US. Second, I encourage people who are looking to study abroad but have very little knowledge of a foreign language to go ahead and do it. I was intimidated coming in to the program, but I found the people in my program and here at the Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language Center to be extremely accepting and helpful. I’m sure that I’ll devote an entire post to IFSA and the TAFL Center so I won’t say too much here. If there are programs half as good with beginners as this one, they are well worth it.
Before traveling to Egypt, my impression was that the entire country was desert and camels. That might be because the typical pictures come from the pyramids, like the one of me that I used. While Egypt has its share of desert, almost nobody lives there. Where I live looks like this.
I realized as soon as I picked my picture of the pyramids that I would be creating the same assumption in other people, so I wanted to balance it with this.
Also, I would like to make a quick plug for everyone out there to keep Egypt in your thoughts. There are currently protests taking place (my next topic) and some have turned violent. After the past few years the last thing the people here deserve is more bloodshed. That’s all for now. Come back again and this can be the start of something wonderful.