Year Abroad in Syria – Day #143

18/01/09

Day 143

Things are going very well over here. This term our timetable has changed; now we only have class four days a week (instead of five) and only three hours on Thursdays (instead of four), so I have been enjoying a long weekend!

We have a new teacher as well, this time a man, Rami al-Farah, who is a post-grad student, so is relatively young and very enthusiastic. So far we have all found ourselves preferring his style of instruction, even though it includes a lot more work! Also, the class this term is smaller, just eight of us, all of whom are from Durham University except for one guy, who was here last term too, from St. Andrews University. He is quite a character – he was telling us the other day how he traveled back home for Christmas by train! All the way from Syria to Scotland! It was a five day journey and apparently was cheaper than flying!

I have settled into my new apartment (still in the Mezeh Gabel area close to the university) and am enjoying the luxury of having internet at home for sending and receiving email. Unfortunately Skype is not so great on our dial-up connection and so occasionally I may still use the internet cafés for that or find a local restaurant with WiFi.

My new apartment has only two bedrooms this time, but one of them is particularly large and so is big enough for my two housemates, with even room to spare for a third person. My bedroom has a fantastic king-size bed, but unfortunately no heating unit installed, so for the time being, while it is still very cold at night, I am sleeping in our large living room, which has an excellent air conditioning/heating unit.

Again we have a large balcony, but unfortunately have lost the panoramic view over the city. This time our balcony is facing towards the mountains to the West. I still enjoy, however, relaxing outside and observing Damascus city-life below; passers-by, people quarrelling, families gathered for tea, and cats fighting on the roof tops.

Since we have a landline in our house, naturally we get the occasional phone call, which means speaking over the phone in Arabic! The first call I answered didn’t go so well – I was a little intimidated by the prospect of speaking Arabic over the phone, but by the second time I felt more prepared and so it was a lot easier. It really is a very cool feeling knowing you have just had a phone conversation entirely in Arabic!

Anyway, I shall say good-bye. I think I might go and try out Mezeh’s famous pizza! Hope everyone is doing well.

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