One problem with living in Al Ain is that it isn’t that easy to meet new people. Al Ain is small. It can kind of feel like you already know everyone in it even though you know you don’t. And yet, when playing six degrees of separation around here, you usually don’t need any more than two before you find the connection.
So back in November, I decided that I had to get out of the house a bit more and do something. Anything. I signed up for a Spanish class. You might be asking, why Spanish? Well, for starters, it is very difficult to find Arabic classes in Al Ain. Weird, right? After taking that one Arabic class last year (هل تتكلم العربية؟) , there was a very long hiatus in Arabic being offered. Now there is a new Arabic class about to be offered, but it is almost like they don’t want people to register for it considering they have it starting during the spring break and then the class will be from 3-5. That basically eliminates anyone that travels during the holiday, anyone that works, and anyone that has children they need to pick up from school…. so it pretty much eliminates any expat that might be semi interested in learning Arabic. My other motivating factor is that my friend, Geraint, was taking the class too. And let’s be honest, even though I say I want to meet new people, you also have to know that I have a hard time talking to new people. Taking the class with a friend was a good buffer.
So my first four week course of Spanish (Pre Level 1) took place three nights a week for two hours a class. Let me tell you, if I had thought it would be fun to get out of the house and meet new people, I was a bit delusional to think this was the way to do it. Three times a week with a class full of odd balls and idiots wasn’t exactly checking off all my needs. However there were two Americans in the class (one was normal), so it was nice to at least get to meet a few fellow Americans even if they are East Coasters.
The first four weeks flew by and by the end some of my forgotten Spanish was starting to come back to me, so I decided that it was worth taking a second session (Level 1). It felt good to be able to start stringing sentences together. It stopped being about meeting new people and started to be about practicing Spanish.
Then by the end of eight weeks of going to Spanish three nights a week for two hours, I started getting tired. It started to feel more like a chore to go to Spanish than it was fun. I felt like I never had any free time in the evenings.
We (other students and I) talked with the course director and pleaded to get the class changed to two nights a week (still 2 hour classes) for six weeks. He said this was not an option, but he was willing to change it to two nights a week for three hours each night (still finishing within four weeks). This seemed slightly better but not great. However, I still signed up for the third session (Level 1.5).
I quickly realized that after working all day, my brain just doesn’t function long enough to get through a three hour class. I would find myself gazing at the clock more often than I should have been. I knew that I was without a doubt not going to sign up for a fourth session.
Bottom line: I enjoyed spending time with my friend, I met one new friend, I am happy to meet the instructor (the wife of one of my co-workers), I picked back up some of my long forgotten Spanish, and I found my limit on extracurricular learning. All in all not a bad experience.