A Summer Semester in 13 Words

Deciphering my notes from my Arabic lecture after the class is usually like a Where’s Waldo exercise, and that’s not because I’m writing in Arabic. Instead, my notes are an amalgamation of grammar concepts, practice exercises, verb conjugations, and answers to questions that arise during class. This combination, while difficult to read at first, allows me to learn new vocabulary that I would never find in my trusty al-Kitaab book or in stories about Khalid or Maha (the main characters in the book). As I reach the conclusion of my Arabic classes, looking through my notebook is not only review for the final; rather, it’s a reminder of the conversations I’ve had, the relationships I made, and the knowledge of the Arabic language and culture that I will remember long after I leave Amman. I’ve had an amazing time here and I have learned so much!

Here are 13 of my favorite vocabulary words that aren’t from the MSA curriculum, along with a description of how I learned the word.

1.Hiccup = حازوقة  – hazooka

A necessary word when you can’t form a sentence without being interrupted by a hiccup.

2. Grilled cheese = جبنة مشوية  – jubna meshweeah

Learned while talking about our favorite foods from home.

3. Cheap = رخيص  – rakhees

One of the first words needed when learning to bargain at a busy souk.

4. Salary = مرتب  – morattab

Talking about the future requires at least some discussion of money!

5. Farms = مزرعة  – mazr3ah

A common weekend destination for Jordanian families, but the word can mean anything from a traditional farm to a luxury villa.

6. Ability = القدرة  – alkudrah

Another word that can aid in describing the future.

7. Extra or leftovers = ضل  – dal

While it was learned along with money change, it’s a mainstay when asking what’s for lunch to your host family!

8. Wonderful = رائعا  – rah’i3

Learned when you’re sick of saying ممتاز (momtaaz/excellent) every day.

9. I snorkeled = غصت  – gustu

This word is required when talking about your weekend in Aqaba!

10. Roman Theater = المدرج الروماني  – almudarraj alroomani

A good landmark for a taxi driver when navigating the busy streets of Amman.

11. Bracelet = اسوارة  – esswarah

Everyone knows this word after an afternoon at the souk.

12. Hungry = الجوع  – ajloo3

My classmates and I magically remembered this word half an hour before our lunch break every day.

13. Ideas = افكار  – afkaar

Used when you want to convey that you’re engaged in the class discussion but have forgotten all of your new vocabulary words.


Caroline Moriarty is a sophomore at the University of Missouri- Kansas City double majoring in political science and music. Caroline is spending the summer semester abroad with the AMIDEAST Intensive Arabic Program in Amman, Jordan. At UMKC, Caroline is a Trustees’ Scholar, member of the Honors College and Mortar Board, and the Vice President of the UMKC College Democrats. She hopes to attend graduate or law school in order to pursue a career in international relations, diplomacy, or public policy.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.