No, wait, I live for math

I had my Arabic final exam this morning at 7:30. 7:30? It was still dark out! It was like going to an exam in the middle of the night! I start work at 8am, but that half-hour was enough to make a huge difference in my mental state.

And that mental state was: Huh?

First of all, I thought it would be really clever not to take my normal class bag with me today, because I wouldn't need books or anything. The load was much lighter, but it didn't speed me up any, because I misjudged where the exam building was in relation to our normal class building and went walking around in circles for a while when there was no building where I expected there to be one (it was 7:30 and I was not yet awake). Once I found the building, I realized that I had written the classroom number in my notebook, which I had left at home as part of my Lighten the Load campaign. I was pretty sure it was something like 1 or 2, so I went in the building in search of 1 or 2 or some sort of signage directing me to the correct room. The ground floor was all made up of 100s, so I had to dig around for some stairs. There seemed to be more stairs going up than going down. Eventually I found a classroom with some familiar tops-of-heads (because the exam had already been handed out and they were already bent over it, working).

I sat down at my left-handed desk, which was the only one accessible without climbing over people. The proctor gave me the exam and... I realized that all my lovely array of various pens were in... my bag at home. I found an old, dying felt-tip pen in my coat pocket and got to work, scratching my answers out in progressively greyer ink.

As a little backstory, I will tell you that when my mid-term exam came around, I knew very well the things that we had just covered in the weeks leading up to the exam, but there were things earlier in the year that I hadn't bothered to learn very well, because I figured I would never really need to know the Arabic word for pencil sharpener or eraser. I don't even write with pencils. It turned out that the exam was chock full of pencil sharpeners and erasers and all I could do on the "What's this a picture of?" questions was to write the letter م, because I was pretty sure they started with an "m" sound but had no idea where they went from there.

When I was studying for this exam, I promised myself I wouldn't make the same mistake. I reviewed everything I could think of. I even went through the trouble of learning that an eraser is a ممحاة and a pencil sharpener is a مبراة. I knew how to conjugate verbs up and down, even though we'd only learned them the week before the exam. Verbs would bow down to my conjugation skills!

The only problem was that while I focused really hard on the mechanics of verb conjugation, I neglected to learn what the verbs themselves mean. There was one section on the exam where we had to conjugate درس and سكن. Great, I thought, He's given us two of the verbs we just learned! I am all set in case I have to use those elsewhere in the exam.

And wouldn't you know, there came a time where I had to use those elsewhere in the exam. I knew that one of the verbs meant "to study" and the other meant "to live" but for the life of me I couldn't remember which one was which. We'd thrown them both around so much in the previous week's conjugation exercises that somehow I'd learned the mechanics without memorizing which verb meant what.

In the end, I was so flummoxed that I can't even remember which verbs I wrote in which circumstances. I know now that درس is "to study" and سكن is "to live" but I can't remember which ones I wrote down. It's possible that I got them right, but it's equally possible that I wrote things like, "I live math. What do you live?"

Of course, "I live math. What do you live?" takes into assumption that my attempts at using question words worked out correctly. We learned those in the last week of class as well, and I didn't bother to study them because I thought they were fresh in my mind. So I may very well have said, "I live math. How many do you live?"

Yeah, I am a rockstar at Arabic.

srah - Monday, 11 December 2006 - 10:00 PM
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Comments (3)

gravatar Noor - December 12, 2006 - 2:21 AM -

Just reading this made me tense up in exam-mode nervousness! I am sorry that the language of my forefathers is so damn difficult!

gravatar srah - December 12, 2006 - 7:03 AM -

It wouldn't be so hard if, you know, I studied things that it would have been perfectly reasonable to study.

gravatar Noor - December 12, 2006 - 10:13 AM -

oh and you go to work at 8?!? I'm so glad I work at a software company.

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