“I like them to talk nonsense. That’s man’s one privilege over all creation. Through error you come to the truth! I am a man because I err! You never reach any truth without making fourteen mistakes and very likely a hundred and fourteen.” Crime and Punishment

Between yesterday and today, I probably made over a hundred and fourteen mistakes! Though I’m not sure I’m even close to the truth yet… Yes, Arabic classes have started. Yesterday, there was some confusion over the location of our fusha class, so the professor ended up canceling it before 5 of us, who had been waiting in the building listed, finally went back to the office to ask after 30 minutes. So that was a little frustrating, but it gave me an extra day to review some grammar and vocab, which was much appreciated.

So because classes start at 8am, I leave my house around 7am to walk the 15 minutes to just a little past al-manara, the center square of Ramallah, to the service parking lot. Because there are so many people (students, professors, admin) who take the service to and from Ramallah and Birzeit, there is a separate parking lot just for that. Which makes it nice – I don’t have to go up to each bus and ask where they’re headed – they’re all headed to Birzeit. Now, there’s a town next to the university that is also Birzeit (bir in Arabic means well and zeit means oil, so it translates to well of oil, referring to the wells in which its inhabitants historically stored virgin-pressed olive oil). So, the service driver will ask, just before the university street, if people in the service want the “jam’a” – colloquial for university, it’s good I figured that out early on…), and if we do, then he drives up the hill and drops us off right at the student gate.

A lot of the students in my program are living in the housing provided by the university in the town of Birzeit. I went to a house of a student in my program, and the views were breathtaking:

Looking out from their house


Yesterday, the first day of class, since my first class was canceled, I only had the colloquial class, which seems very basic and will be a good review, while learning how to actually speak to people on an everyday basis. Then, after class let out, I had to get back to Ramallah to get a passport photo taken, which I was only vaguely aware of one store that some other students had gone to, though none of them could remember exactly where it was located. Thankfully, after just wandering down two streets, I found it! It was a lot of running around, back and forth to the university and to Birzeit town, plus a little stop at the Arab Bank (yes, again! and no my money was not there yesterday, but I was reassured it would be there by today. I didn’t have the heart to check!)

Something I really love about being here in Ramallah and the West Bank, as soon as shopkeepers or even students you talk to on the service discover that you’re from the US or Europe, they immediately say, “Welcome to Palestine.” And not in a touristy-trap kind of way, but genuinely, you are welcome in Palestine. It’s so crazy, you would never hear an American in the streets of DC tell a clearly foreign person, “Welcome to America.” I just would never think of that! But the hospitality and happiness (?) that Palestinians show to foreigners is something I’ve never experienced before. Now, on the other hand, sometimes when I’m walking by a group of young men on the street, as they’re staring me up and down, they will say in a more “sexually-nuanced” way, “welcome to Palestine,” but it makes me think of the creepers who go up to little kids in the streets and try to lure them away with candy or a balloon… I really want to tell these guys that that’s not the way to catch a girl’s attention!

So yes, like the post title says, I do have homework and should be going to do it.


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