I’m Beth, I was the JCR President 2015-16 and I study Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, or AMES. As the title suggests, it’s a pretty broad faculty, with students studying Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Hindi. I combine Arabic with Spanish (from the Modern and Medieval Languages course) - there are currently 7 of us in my year doing this across the university.
Studying AMES at Cambridge
The AMES faculty is a really great place to be; we are one of the only faculties to have a Common Room, reflecting the sociable nature of the course - in first year we have Arabic lessons every day, so you very quickly become close friends with everyone in your class, especially as you all have a new language to contend with! Although starting a language with a new alphabet and a completely different grammar system may seem daunting at first, you quickly get the hang of it, the workload is manageable and the first time you manage to write a full page of Arabic is the most rewarding feeling! If you study just Arabic (without an MML language) in first year then you will do some history and culture modules, but by second year everyone can take modules in the culture, religion and history of the Middle East.
Arabic supervisions take place in the Faculty (this is unusual, normally supervisions are in college) because it is such a small course. We have languages lessons every day, and get grammar exercises, listening practices, vocab learning and writing tasks for homework. I also have Spanish literature essays and grammar exercises, so there is always lots of variety!