I think it’s good that I have to write this for Teens in Print because I haven’t been writing in my own journal that much lately. I’ve just been so busy lately, mostly studying for the ACT, which I took yesterday. I was so nervous the night before the test that I could barely sleep. But it’s over (at least for now), and I’m thankful for that. I can’t say I did amazing because the science section was particularly tricky, but I answered every question so technically speaking, I could have gotten every single question right. 🙂
After the ACT, I was so hungry, so my family and I ate lunch while watching “The Silence of the Lambs.” The last movie that I had seen was almost a week ago, and it was “Seven Up!” which is only 39 minutes long. I had wanted to watch a movie for days — specifically, I was craving a period drama for some reason — but “The Silence of the Lambs” (which is definitely not what I had in mind), was also good. Both Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster were amazing, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
We then watched “Hoop Dreams,” a documentary about two African American teenagers with dreams of playing in the NBA. I haven’t seen that many documentaries, but this one was fascinating but a little long. (My mom fell asleep — but then again, she usually does.)
Reading this, it probably seems like all I do is watch movies, but I promise it’s not (although I wish it were). The only reason I watched two films yesterday was that they were due at the library on Friday, so I had to return them Monday morning before the library opened.
I still had homework to do after “Hoop Dreams” so I stayed up a little, but I was so tired that I decided to just wake up early the next day. The good news is that I finished all of my homework this morning. The bad news is that I’m very tired as I’m writing this right now. Yes, I know it’s my fault that I watched two movies instead of being productive, but I needed to take a break after the ACT.
Overall, it was a fun Sunday. Even though I took a three-hour-long test, I’m glad I’m done with it, and I watched two great movies. I had to postpone a lot of things because of the ACT (like my summer homework, cleaning the house, putting up posters in my room, etc.), but now I finally have time to do them.
This summer, I was accepted into a program called the National Security Language Initiative for Youth. I was supposed to stay with a host family in Morocco and study Arabic there. Needless to say, I’m not in Morocco right now. Because of the coronavirus, I’m just taking virtual Arabic classes. In some ways, this works out. I have a job, I took the ACT, and I can spend more time with my brother, who’s going to college in the fall. But obviously, I also really wanted to go to Morocco.
Despite its virtual setting, I was surprised about how much I learned through the program. At first, I was very intimidated. I had to take a test in which a native speaker calls you on your phone and converses with you in Arabic. When the time came, I didn’t understand a lot of what he was saying and answered most of his questions with the word for “good” in Arabic — I was so freaked out that I forgot how to say “yes” or I would have alternated between the two. I also had to submit a video of myself speaking Arabic, send a picture of my writing in Arabic, and complete some pre-program studying requirements.
The program split the students into three groups based on the students’ levels. When I found out I was in the third group, which I assumed was the least advanced, I was disheartened. I knew I didn’t do well on my over the phone interview, but I had been studying Arabic for quite a while.
I was a little more cheerful on my first day of class. I was determined to make this program fun, and I told myself that since I was in the lowest class, I could only get better. However, in only the first couple of minutes of class, I felt like I was out of place.
99% of the class is in Arabic, which is great for learning a language, but on that first day, I felt completely lost. It didn’t help that my other two classmates seemed to understand everything, either. I smile as I’m writing this now, but I felt so dumb then.
As the week progressed, however, things got a lot better. With the lessons and homework, I think we all got on more or less the same page. I bonded with my classmates and my teacher over books, movies, and music; eagerly participated in class and felt my skills rapidly improving.
I think it was during the second week when I actually found out that I was in the most advanced class. Even though it didn’t matter to me as much since I had already felt like I was in the class for me, I still felt a burst of pride.
Now, the program is almost over. I can’t believe how fast it flew by. My final project is due tomorrow (I haven’t started…), and my final exam is on Thursday, our last day together. Arabic class was one of my favorite times of the day, and I’m sorry to say goodbye.
My parents are leaving on Saturday to help my sister move into her new place in Philadelphia, so I’ll spend the weekend with my brother. I’m kind of stuck on what to write about right now, so I guess I’ll just write about that.
Before they leave, we have to watch “Doctor Zhivago” because it’s due soon. I don’t want to watch it that much — I have barely touched my summer work and have to watch a ton of other movies that have higher priority, but my mom is interested in Russia. Well, I do like what I’ve seen so far of David Lean’s filmography, so maybe I’ll love “Doctor Zhivago.”
I am also celebrating my friend’s birthday over the weekend. I think we’re going to finish up “The Godfather,” which we started two weeks ago. I’ve shown them “Casablanca,” but they were less enthusiastic about it than I am (it’s my favorite movie). Even though we’ve only seen half of “The Godfather” so far, they both like it more than “Casablanca,” and one friend said that if it continues the way it began, it might be one of her favorite movies. I also liked the second movie, but I have a feeling they’re not going to like it as much. And let’s not even get started with the third…
A few weeks ago, my friend recommended I should get a Letterboxd account. Letterboxd is basically a place where you can track all of the movies you have seen. At first, I thought it would be kind of pointless because I already record the movies I watch and what I think about them on a Google Sheet. But I decided to give it a try and I’m addicted.It’s like Goodreads for movies. I love reading through the reviews of movies I hate and movies I love and it’s so humbling when I see all the movies I haven’t watched yet. Like I’ve only seen 16% of all of the films from all of the “1001 Movies to See Before You Die” editions (and by the way, I know I’ve only seen 16% because of a feature on Letterboxd that lets you know.) Along with this feature, there are also lists you can create, showdowns in which you can participate, and a category for your favorite films.
Even though I just joined, it’s a really great community that I wish I had been part of sooner. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in movies. You might be a little wary just like I was when my friend told me about Letterboxd, but I encourage you to take a chance. I just love movies so much so I’m so glad there’s a platform for people like me.