Last Saturday I visited Ramallah (رام الله), and subsequently it has become one of my favorite places that I have visited while studying abroad. It is one of the biggest and most built-up cities in the West Bank, and as it is a Palestinian city everything is written in Arabic.
As it was Shabbat we took the Arab buses there and back from Jerusalem — Discussing Qalandia Checkpoint can get political, so all I will say here is that it is something every person living in Israel should experience.
Once in the city I spent the day wandering, visiting Yasser Arafat’s tomb, and speaking a lot of Arabic. In terms of an academic experience it was the single most gratifying day of my time here. From talking with my cab driver to being able to point out “sandwich falafel” on our restaurant’s all-Arabic sign to asking the price of a box of strawberries for my friends, I could actually communicate with people. Not everything I said was understood, and I certainly did not understand everything that was said to me, but I could actually talk to people! And after only a month and a half of learning this language, that makes me pretty happy.