One time when my little brother Bronson (who is 7 now) was 5, he was sitting in sacrament meeting, under the bench, just thinking to himself. Suddenly, he sat up, turned to my mother and said, "My x-ray vision is gone!"
This was quite tragic for him because he has always (does he still?) considered himself a super-hero, and to lose his magical powers--even if it was only his x-ray vision--was traumatic.
After living and studying in Jordan for several months now (and with only 5 weeks left!), I feel as though my x-ray vision is gone.
When I was in the America, before coming on this trip, I listened to Dil and Kirk talk about how others had failed in this program. The way to success, according to them, was to not spend much time with Americans, tolerate hanging out with Arabs no matter how much you don't like them, live with an Arab family, eat beans every day for breakfast, and not spend very much time on the computer/email to your friends/family in America--as that won't really help you learn Arabic.
Gung-ho as ever and thinking I was a super hero, I tried this for a long time. On the weekends, instead of going to fun places with my American friends, I stayed with my Arab family and did Arabic things, like studying.
At the university, instead of spending time at the Language Center with the Americans and the Arabs who speak English, I spent my time with Arabs, speaking (and sometimes understanding) Arabic, for hours at a time.
As for internet/Skype time, well, I tried to keep it to a minimum.
And then, after several months of this, I fell apart. As Spencer told me yesterday, Dil's way and Kirk's way to learn Arabic is not my way. I went from one extreme to the other, and now I no longer want to be here, I no longer want to learn Arabic, and I hate Jordan.
The hours and hours spent reading newspaper articles about bombings and people killed and earthquakes and Palestine and talking to people in the streets and seeing their anger and hopelessness is really getting to me. It is affecting my dreams/nightmares and tearing me apart emotionally. And I am just tired of learning Arabic, especially since in nine weeks I will start learning Mandarin Chinese!
For those who don't study Arabic and don't understand how this could happen, reading this article about how most Arabic programs go will help you understand that I can only be a part of these depressing things for so long without feeling some of that depression and hopelessness myself. (For those who do study Arabic, I am curious to know your feelings and responses to this article.)
Anyway, I don't want this post to depress anyone--just warn those who come after from making the same mistakes I so carefully made.
The solution? I am still working on it. But yesterday, Spencer said, "You are more important than the program." So, for the next five weeks, I will keep that in mind. If those of you who have learned other languages have any suggestions, I would appreciate them!