Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two down

I survived my first two days of classes.  Tomorrow I will be up before the sun, for a PT class led by of our nations ARMY.  It’s not that bad; push sit ups and a fair amount of running.  Should keep off the Freshman 15.

My Arabic class is going to be interesting.  Our teacher lived in the same neighborhood as Basma and her family.  We got to watch a travel documentary on Jordan in Arabic on the first day.  Drake has a really revolutionary way of teaching languages that focuses on conversation.  There will be very limited grammar training, which is excellent because it doesn’t really help you on the ground anyways.  I invite you to check out the DULAP program if you are interested in Drake.

My comparative politics teacher is from Egypt and will be planning a trip there in the coming years, so inshaalla I will be abroad again soon enough. 

I have yet to meet a teacher who is not passionate about their subject.  For example I am taking a stats class for social sciences (read how to conduct an opinion poll)  First day the professor asks who is excited for the class.  Not a single one of the 20 of us (small class sizes) raised their hand.  She replied she was excited enough for all of­ us.  The class shouldn’t be too bad and it is nice to know we have professors that are very passionate about their work. 

The dorm floor is clicking very well with each other.  We have even branched off to meet the other kids in the dungeon (basement) and the all girls floor above us affectionately reoffered to as the nunnery.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


For the last 8 months I have had a Drake sticker on the rear window of my van.  For those months every time I look in my rear view mirror, Drake has looked back at me.  Tonight is different.  I no longer have my car.  Waunakee is in my rearview and Drake is ahead.  

I have settled into my dorm for the most part.  The people are really cool.  We have a very laid back dorm.  We are in an upper class dorm, yet none of them are here yet.  It is all first year students.  My room mate and I found our way to the newer freshmen dorms.  They are very nice but lack the character of ours.  Supposedly ours is haunted, due to a hanging suicide.  I will let you know if I hear anything tonight.  

If you are thinking of coming to Drake, the first person you will meet is the admissions person.  Mine is named Ryan and has been absolutely wonderful.  Today as I was unpacking and settling in he stopped by to say hello.  This is one caveat of the excellence Drake provides.  I am really starting to feel home.  

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I am finally back home. It was nice being in my own bed. So far I have been knocking off good chunks of the things I missed on the list. Think I may have binged on the root beer, though.
The question I am getting a lot is whether I liked the first year more. The answer is an obvious yes because it was all new. However if the person wants to have an actual conversation, I generally say they were very different. The two years were almost too different to compare. The sights were different, for which I am thankful. Our leaders each year had very different styles. The group dynamic was much different. This year was much more work, yet some of that was very rewarding. Setting up a sit down with the Minister of Foreign Affairs is something I am very proud of. Our team was successful at the networking game.
I talked to the head boss, Dr. Fritz Erickson, my last morning in DC. Him and had some time to kill before we flew out, and went to stroll around Arlington Cemetery. He said he was very proud of what happened, the work everyone did, and the amount of Arabic instruction that went on. That really helped. We weren’t sure how successful we were going, as we were pretty much guinea pigs. In the end though he was pleased, and that’s what matters. Nothing really bad happened. Even the shooting did not really hamper our day-to-day lives. When I first landed, our in-country director, Ethan, said he had two goals. The first was to keep people safe. The second was to make sure the students had the best summer of their lives. Both were accomplished. All in all, the trip was an excellent success.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Our last days in Jordan were very busy.  I am sorry I haven’t posted recently.  Currently I am sitting at La Gaurdia and it is 7:30 saturday morning.  We were supposed to be in DC last night, but thanks to the wonders of Delta, I managed to get a 3 hour nap in a hotel, and now have a flight in an hour.

It went by very fast,t hose last days in Jordan.  We had a final exam, which I got a B on.  We went out for a fancy dinner, and shopped for last minute souvenirs.  I got to hang out with my Jordanian friends Basma and Motaz one last time.  Their uncle is the Jordanian equivalent of Condi Rice.  They helped arrange a sit down between a few of us and his Excellency.

The University of Jordan hosted us as well as the host families and friends of the program for a mini graduation.  The teacher who I am not very fond of, gave a poem.  this was translated into english by another teacher.  I assume it was a very beautiful poem, in arabic.  In english it got a lot of laughs because it was so different than all the other speeches.  There was definitely an over the top fluff aspect to it, but it got more and more entertaining as the poem progressed.  Earlier in the week, he asked me for chill/soft american songs.  I burned him two cds, which he apparently listens to nonstop.  halfway through the poem he breaks into english with the following: 

“ Listen to your heart, when he’s calling for you.  Listen to your heart, there’s nothing else you can do.  I don’t know where your going and I don’t know why, but listen to your heart, before you tell him good bye.”

The place erupted in laughter.  I don’t know if he fully understands the song, but any excuse to throw american pop songs into arab poetry is damn good.  

I will post final reflections when things finally calm down. Yesterday we left Amman at 8, ended up making a stop in Ireland-which we were told about upon getting to the gate.  that stop made us miss our DC connection at JFK, which meant heading to a hotel for a nap.  Turns out hotels computers were down.  So we waited for 2 hours and finally got to bed at 1:30.  When Patrick and I got into our room, it appeared as if someone just left, or was still living there.  So ended up sleeping on the floor.  All in all a fantastic trip, haven’t lost my bags yet, and managed to bring some sweet stuff back.  Hope y’all are well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tourist bulldog

We had an amazing weekend.  In 3 days we managed to hit all the major tourist spots in Jordan.  On top of that all our accommodations were high class.  On Saturday we went to Karak Castle, and then on to Petra.  It was amazing to see Petra again.  Before I came I was sitting on the couch watching Indian Jones and the Last Crusade.  One of the very last scenes is him going into what is known as the treasury in Petra.  There he goes to find the Holy Grail.  WHen I saw that on the couch I was overcome with emotion.  I knew that soon, I would be seeing that again for real.  Seeing this marvelous structure again last weekend was my holy grail.  We were there in the late afternoon so the colors really came out with the setting sun. 

Then we made our way to Wadi Rum, which is an amazing desert, as shown in the movie Lawrence o Arabia.  This is one of my favorite spots on earth.  The sunset there is easily one of the best in the world.  The rock formations are absolutely massive.  Scrambling all over them made for some interesting pictures.

After camping in the desert, and hearing groups find the large spiders in the early hours before dawn, we headed to Aqaba.  This time I got less sunburn and still managed to see amazing snorkeling.  I have been to Hawaii, and the Caribbean, and the Red Sea, particularly in Aqaba, has the worlds best snorkeling.  

All in all it was an amazing weekend, which hopfully some of the pics will show.  I just found out one of the best diplomats the US has ever had will be speaking at Drake while I am there.  One of things I would suggest in looking for colleges, is to make sure they can bring in speakers.  Also, I hope to get a chance to have a personal sit down with him.  tomorrow morning I will finally get to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Jordan.  This is their version of Condi Rice, and I am STOAKED!!!!!!

5 days until I am home, then heading off to college 9 days later.

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