Tuesday, February 28, 2012

UWC Interview Updates

So apparently my interview for UWC is going to be in Madison, Wisconsin on March 17th. *Anybody else?). I was kind of expecting it to be in Chicago, and while Madison is a bit further away, it's not as far as some people I've heard about. (Idaho to Nebraska, anyone?). And UWC is totally worth a couple hours in the car :)

The interview itself is going to be an all-day affair, aka YES!-I-GET-TO-TALK-ABOUT-INTERNATIONAL-THINGS-AND-BE-EXCITED-ABOUT-UWC-WITH-A-BUNCH-OF-OTHER-EXCITED-PEOPLE-FOR-AN-ENTIRE-DAY! The email said that it'd be a combination of informational presentations, individual interviews, and group activities. Should be fun!

So it's just under three weeks away... I'm kind of glad it's really close: I'm so excited already, so I don't think I could handle it if it were any further. Here's how the timeline is supposed to play out:

March 17th: Interview
April 16th: Last day to change preferences for campuses
April 30th: Last day to find out about acceptances
And then about a week after that to either accept or refuse the offer, if I get one. (Fingers crossed!)

It's all happening so fast! I really hope it all works out; I can't even describe how excited/nervous/amazed I am at everything right now!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Starting to study Arabic... some resources.

Dear First-Time Arabic Students Applying for NSLI-Y,
(aka those with no prior knowledge of the language that would be spending their time a lot better by starting to learn the alphabet and such instead of just stressing out, but don't even know where to start)
We're all going crazy with anxiety. I totally understand, But, instead of just letting the stress strangle you, start studying Arabic (if that's what you applied for, and if you're a beginner. If you're not a beginner, go hit the textbook you already have!). But seriously, this is fun stuff!

Go through the alphabet, copying the words and pronouncing them. This was the very first exposure to the alphabet that I had, and I made myself an "Arabic Learning Notebook" right away. I made a page for each letter, copying the words and translations on that page for each letter, and then a page as a master sheet for the letters to refer to later on. Make sure to pronounce them yourself after the audio clips!

Sing along to this, and learn the alphabet! It's rather catchy, I still sing it when I'm going through the alphabet in my head. Then and again, I still sing the English alphabet in my head, so maybe that's just me...

Here's some Jordanian ammiya. This is pretty much applicable in Jordan (and maybe surrounding countries a little). So if you're going to Jordan, study up! But if you're going to Morocco, I recommend iTunes. They've got some great Moroccan Arabic podcasts.

Here's a website from the BBC that has simple standard Arabic (MSA) phrases. This is a good starter for before you know if you've been accepted, because they're simple phrases that will be recognized whether you go to Morocco or Jordan. This is also the kind of Arabic that is used in formal situations and the media, so it'll definitely be there.
So, just learn the alphabet, and then start trying to learn simple phrases! And one tip - DON'T TRANSLITERATE IT INTO ENGLISH LETTERS! While it might seem like it's making it easier for yourself, you're just using the Arabic alphabet less. Every time you transliterate, you're cheating yourself of an opportunity to get better at the Arabic alphabet! SO JUST USE THE ARABIC ALPHABET! It's more fun anyways :)
All right then! I guess we're all in the waiting boat again. I can't wait for April to find out whether I get to go again! GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!
Salaam, 7ob, al-3rabia
(oops, I guess I just broke my transliteration rule...)
سلام، حب، العربية
Peace, Love, Arabic
PS. If you have any questions about learning Arabic, just comment and I'll try to help, and if I don't know I'll message my Arabic teacher and get her to help!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Facebook is like a diary I forget that I'm keeping.

I’m not quite sure what prompted me to do this. Actually, I know exactly what prompted me to. The first post in this long list of posts popped up on the side of my Facebook, and while usually I ignore those posts, it kind of struck me. I mean, I posted it before I went to Jordan, before I met anyone there, before I knew anything about the Middle East, before it all happened. And that’s a little weird. So I ended up going through my statuses since then, and making a grand list. It’s strange, seeing life laid out like this, but kind of fascinating at the same time.

And so I present to you, a list of my exchange program related status updates on Facebook from December 21, 2010, to February 23, 2012. It’s a long read, but hey. If you’re up for it :)

December 21, 2010
“semi-finalist for this exchange program scholarship! so excited!”

March 31, 2011
“Will know in the next two weeks whether I'm spending the summer abroad. I don't think I'm going to be able to focus on much of anything else :)”

April 12, 2011

April 16, 2011
“Countdown to Jordan - 58 Days. Countdown to AP Test - 30 Days. I should put down the Arabic book and pick up the review books.”

May 31, 2011
“Packing for the Middle East is easy to do in advance: none of the shorts and t-shirts I wear here are getting packed, and I'm not planning on wearing any of the long sleeves and long pants here before I leave. Sounds like a plan :)”

June 12, 2011
“In about 12 hours, I'll finally been leaving. It's been 64 days since I got my acceptance letter, I'm so ready for this.”

June 15, 2011
“Leaving for the DC airport in a couple minutes, had some extra time for Facebook. Apparently houses in Jordan don't have street numbers, so mail doesn't work. So, I can send letters home, but not recieve them. BYE! I'LL BE ON A A A PLANE FOR LITERALLY THE NEXT THREE DAYS, WITH THE WAY THE TIME CHANGES WORK. It's insane, actually. But it's fun, I'm loving it so far.”

June 18, 2011
“At the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan. My host family is amazing, but they don't speak English at all - I'm learning so much Arabic”

June 30, 2011
“Ana 3ndi wajb kiteer. Ana mish baheb wajb. Laken ana 3ndi al urdun, so life is good :)”

July 1, 2011
“Dear deep dish pizza we're making tomorrow,
Please work despite the fact that we couldn't buy cornmeal in the middle east. There's 25 jordanians expecting pizza from this little adventure. Don't make me regret opting for crust from scratch.
Thanks, see you tomorrow morning,

July 2, 2011
“Pizza is success so far. Crust and sauce from scratch are good, hopefully this works. Hopefully the middle east appreciates this.”

July 5, 2011
“Spent the 4th of July in a cafe on "shar3 rainbow," and then went and got schwarma. I feel un-American :)”

July 7, 2011
“Leaving for our weekend trip south tomorrow morning. Supposedly I'm not supposed to post where we're going for security purposes, but honestly, there's only three places where people go in the south of Jordan, and we're going to all of them. Today is our last day with our host families though... I'm horribly sad. I'm going to visit them pretty much everyday when I'm living in the apartments when we get back.”

July 7, 2011
“Our family has declared that we are not sleeping tonight because it is our last night with the host families. I am going back and forth between sobbing and having a good time.”

July 11, 2011
“Yesterday I woke upin Wadi Rum with the beadouins. This morning I woke up in an apartment with a broken washing machine, and the bunch of sketchiness everywhere. Figures. I want my host family back :)”

July 16, 2011
“Protests at the mosque downtown yesterday. Some police used clubs on people, so it was international news. There's rumors of people hurt and dead, but I'm fine. I was at the mosque downtown yesterday, but I wasn't in a protest and I'm fine. Don't worry.”

July 18, 2011
“Arabic teacher is operating on Jordanian time, meaning she's currently one hour late and counting. Rock on, yanni.”

July 21, 2011
“Happiness is...”

July 23, 2011
“Exhaustion. But I never want to come home :)”

July 25, 2011
“When I say home home, I mean Dhahiat al Hussein. When I say home, I mean Tila al Ali. America is just being referred to as "back."”

July 27, 2011
“Woke up, and went to the Jordanian police station to try and pay our way out of getting a blood test because we overstayed our visas and broke the rules. Funny how things work here.”

July 27, 2011
“taxi min shar3 rainbow ila tila al ali, sab3a dinar??? la, shukran, m3salaama.”

(Back in America)

September 25, 2011
“Bidi al-Urdon. It's one of those days.”

October 22, 2011
“I wish that I could still use this as a reason to be tired: "I made a trip fi al-balaad and lost a small Asian girl in the fruit market and had a taxi driver who wouldn't take me home the right way, and now I'm out of shai and the hamaam is broken again and ya haraam, there goes the door handle again, and I just spent fifteen minutes stuck in the elevator with some random kid wearing boxers on his head, holding up a firecracker discussing some sort of bomb with another kind wearing a pink hijab. And then I just wanted to sit on the roof but there was some creepy kid asking whether boxer man's wife had a boyfriend, and then I wanted to go to bed but there was a fan that kept threatening to fall on my mattress, and I was just exhausted." Tisba'ala khair, world. If only I'd wake up in Tila'a al Ali tomorrow morning.”

October 28, 2011
” Priority list for the weekend: NSLI-Y app, NSLI-Y app, NSLI-Y app.”

October 29, 2011
“Sooo... anybody want to edit my NSLI-Y essays?”

October 30, 2011
“"Why do you want to study Arabic?" Why WOULDN'T anybody want to study Arabic? :) If only I could make that my entire essay.”

November 21, 2011
“Bidi al-urdon... it's one of those days.”

November 28, 2011
“Looking for full-ride scholarships for exchange programs. Found one that's two years, and somehow my mother likes that one more than the one that's just one academic year. Strange world...”

November 29, 2011
“" Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence." Oh, how I love personal statements for applications...”

December 20, 2011
“Looking through all of my Arabic books instead of doing homework :)”

December 23, 2011
“Driving out to Pennsylvania for Christmas, and then back to Chicago for New Year's with all my habibtis”

December 28, 2011
“Remember that night in Til3 al-Ali when we were joking about having a reunion for New Year's? I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE ALL COMING TOMORROW! Ba7ebek, bishofik mbukra!!!!”

December 31, 2011
“New Year's with the best people ever... And I bought pita, so life is good :)”

January 21, 2012
“NSLI-Y Interview! :)”

February 22, 2012
“Compulsively checking my email every 50 minutes :)”

February 23, 2012
“Dear UWC National Committee,
Please just tell us already :)

February 23, 2012
“Got an interview for UWC! :)”

Strange, this Facebook thing. Status updates… hm… strange.

And so now, I wait. To hear about whether I get to go on NSLI-Y again. To hear about when my interview is for the UWCs, and then to hear whether I get to go to a UWC. But for these sorts of things, I suppose it’s worth it J


Ahhh I'm so excited I can hardly think straight! I finally got the email today, saying that I had been selected for a UWC interview! It turned out to be almost 600 applicants, and then they do 125 interviews, and 50 people get selected (25 for the school in the US, 25 to be split up among the others overseas). I'm literally just bouncing around with joy and happiness!

That's pretty much it for now! I don't have a date or anything yet, all we got was a form email saying we'd made it to this stage, and that they'd send details about the interviews soon :) AHH!

Oh, and here's another epic picture that just makes me excited about this... this is the school in Duino, Italy :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012


So, I was reading about the IB Maths program at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland, and I was rather surprised at the PDFs they provided. Not in a good way, not in a bad way, just surprised.

First, this is the sheet provided on the school's website as a test of "presumed knowledge." I glanced through it, and figured it was pretty standard stuff, kind of like a really short SAT math section. I didn't see anything that I didn't know how to do.

Then I click on the link for the "Self Diagnostic Test for IB Higher Maths," and that is where I became rather surprised. Right at the top it reads,

"FOR HIGHER LEVEL: be able to do these in your head
FOR STANDARD LEVEL: be able to do these with paper, pen and calculator"

Which I mean, it's all fine and dandy, it's just a very different approach to math than we have in school here. In my math class right now, the actual answer isn't the point, it's the process you took to find that answer. Showing every single step of work on paper is required on tests and homework, and we get points off if we don't show appropriate scratch work.

Strange, but kind of interesting. I went through the test without paper or pencil, and kind of enjoyed the challenge of doing math that I had learned freshman and sophomore year without paper or pencil, especially since I'd never done it like that before. I don't think it really made it any harder, just slower.

I suppose school in Jordan was different than America, and so school in Swaziland would be different as well. I just found it interesting the way in which math, at least, differs.

Well, that kept my brain busy for a while. Now it's back to "interviews? interviews? interviews? interviews?"

Good luck everyone :)



They made it kind of hard to have an actual countdown when they told us that the interview notifications for the UWCs would come out on either the 22nd or the 23rd. I'm hoping the 22nd :) There's a countdown running on the top of the Till Eulenspiegel music for band, it's pretty great.

I have very little to say in this post, other than I'm nervous/excited essentially 24/7, and I'm having trouble finding anything else about the UWCs on the internet. I've read so, so, so, so much about them, I can't wait to find out about interviews!

From a great student blog... I mean, how is this not epic?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ma 3ndi 7abib and UWC Interviews

So tomorrow is Valentine's Day. And in honor of not having a 7abib, there's this song that makes me rather happy :) It's essentially the Arab version of Single Ladies. And it's fantastic.
And this version has English subtitles, so ya'll can understand better.

Also, as it's February 13th, that means that it's t-minus ten days until I find out whether I got a UWC interview! Insha'allah! I can't stop thinking about it. (Actually, that's a lie. I don't think about it for extended periods of time. But then when I don't have anything else to think about for a split second I think about it. if that makes any sense... oh my). ANYWAYS! I'm excited!

Monday, February 6, 2012

UWC Interviews

So, I got an email today from the UWC Admissions Office. I got really excited, but then opened it, and all it said was that they'd announce who got an interview via email, either on February 22 or 23. So while I don't really have any news yet, at least I have a date to be looking forward too, instead of just this strange open-ended waiting.

NSLI-Y, on the other hand, is beginning to feel like that strange open-ended waiting. I'm so excited for both of them, I can't even process it. The thought of going back to the Middle East for the summer, and then going to a UWC after that is SO FANTASTIC! No words, yo :)

I need to go study for math. But, focusing on math is not the easiest thing when I've got something like SWAZILAND on my mind.

Not-so-daily fun fact about Swaziland: This is the flag, and it's a rather cool looking flag, if I do say so myself. Now, I'm going to go look up what it means, and by that point I should be ready for some math homework :)