Postat în Liban forum
I'm going to be traveling to Beirut next week to take part in the CAMES summer Arabic program on offer at AUB. Have heard good things about the university, despite the rather expensive fees, and was wondering if anyone else will be joining the program this year? I suppose everyone participating will be introducing themselves during orientation, but I thought some networking prior to showing up could be useful, at least to know of who's going to be there.
Also if anyone has any experiences or opinions (and even advice on where to go and what to do in Beirut! ;)
All the best,
postat de către în Liban forum
Nice one!! I really had a wonderful summer last year at AUB! :) The program itself was rather different than what I was expecting when I initially applied, I admit. At first I was really looking for an Arabic language immersion program, whereas in fact it's really more academic than that...it was more so a university semester course condensed into a few weeks. Being an American University, almost all the students (much to my surprise) spoke near-perfect English with American accents as well as Arabic, and would almost always revert to English if you struggled with Arabic. That, and the program itself was composed of about 80% of American students looking for transferable credits, almost all of whom aspired to work for a "Think Tank" or the State Department in the US. Just letting you know that, because I went there as a 25 year old, non American so it was a bit of a surprise at first.
The AUB campus absolutely beautiful, with the sea-front and plenty of sports facilities. I would live there if they'd let me!! :) And I found it to be very safe. There is security on every gate, and they are strict with checking ID before letting people onto the campus, so you shouldn't have any worries for securities. The girls on the program did have a few complaints, as their dorms were situated at the bottom of the campus, which meant a long walk up many stairs in the morning...but complaints soon subsided after some time on the campus. There are supermarkets and restaurants/bars all closeby, which was useful, as some might describe the art of flagging down public transport as a "challenge", hehe. And the University beach!!!!
For the course, I was very impressed in honesty. It is quite pricey admittedly, but I was fortunate enough to have a really great teacher who was passionate, skilled and fun, and endeavours to ensure each student learns and has a good time. I think almost all the teachers were looked on as very good really, and enjoyed their jobs. The classes were never really very immersive, and English was usually the language of instruction, but you do somehow progress quite fast and cover a lot of content. I was placed in "lower intermediate", and found that the amount of homework issued was a lot less than I'd expected, but they were always more than happy to dish out more if you asked for more exercises or drills, or even to practice after class! But certainly students in the higher classes were under some pressure to finish their assignments each evening. I came to realise during the summer that the best way to learn the language was to study academically in class and homework assignments, and then to go out onto the streets and explore the country, and generally practice. This is where I really learned a lot. In the Ras Beirut area (around the uni) almost everyone speaks some level of English or French, but the further out you got, the more you had to struggle with Arabic and force yourself to practice, which was great. There's nothing like having the one taxi driver in Beirut that doesn't speak English or French, take you to a club you don't know at 2am, and have to struggle with Arabic and translate directions from friends :) The Lebanese people are always happy to see you practice and want to learn, even in restaurants they'd sometimes make an effort to speak slower (with a smile), and once we even had a waitress teach us as she knew we were students learning the language.
Honestly, if you can afford it, and can discipline yourself, it's a great program. And a wonderful country. Just don't get too disappointed when you realise that they too are very good at languages and may want to impress with that...they're always willing to help if you tell them you're trying to learn :)
Hope that helps, have a great time