The End, the Middle, and the Beginning


root: ء-ف-ق / noun / plural: آفاق / definition: horizon

Today, I was conducting the Arabic oral exams for my second-year students and it became apparent that I have some residual anxiety from my undergraduate days as I felt nervous for them. They seemed chilled in comparison, which I’m happy about.

This sort of marks the end of my official teaching-related duties for the academic year, and leaves me standing here with open arms to welcome the summer and everything I have planned, and the things I plan to plan.

I’m actually in the middle of my pseudo gap year, believe it or not. After the pandemic had stifled my travel plans for a while and my master’s had stifled my ability to relax without guilt, I decided that I’d be doing as much travelling as possible this year—in addition to working here in London term-time (hence the “pseudo”).

And I have some interesting things on the near horizon (like a class in the art of ebru) and the slightly more distant one (an intensive ancient languages course) and the further one (tickets to a Mongolian theatre production), and plans that have just made it as far as a Google search (Tai chi classes?).

(This talk of horizons has reminded me of possibly my favourite (non-Arabic!) word I’ve learnt this year: gözýetim, a Turkmen word for “horizon” that literally means “where the eye reaches”. There’s just something about that that makes me want to write a poem.)

It’s not just these embellishing my horizons, though. Because there’s that little—big—case of my PhD.

Yes, it seems that things have aligned and I’m actually due to start my PhD in Arabic literature and linguistics in September, إن شاء الله!

I think I’m subconsciously filling up my summer because I’m worried I’ll be too busy for anything other than reading come autumn. But it’s also a huge relief to be heading back into official studying (or do I have to call it research now?) in a few months time.

The stresses of studying for me are always outweighed by a sense of purpose, and the knowledge that I’m dedicating myself to something I love. You can’t beat that.

Before you go, don’t forget to have a read of last week’s post, Arabic Words for “Eternity”, where I discuss several words that have slightly different meanings, and do consider supporting this blog if you’re enjoying the content!

!مع السلامة

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2 thoughts on “The End, the Middle, and the Beginning

  1. What is the level expected of second year uni students in the oral exams? I guess since this is a university you’d have to be near-fluent already?

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