The best way to discover a country or a culture, know their traditions, understand their values and way of thinking, and learn their language is to live in it and socialize with their people.
"Dimashq" is one of the best cities to study Arabic, offering a complete linguistic immersion. Unlike other Arabic speaking countries (Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Gulf countries or North Africa), here, few people speak English or French. The students will express themselves in Arabic, make efforts to practice the language at all times and in all situations of everyday life to communicate with local people. They will listen, see, buy, move, eat, drink, breath ... in one word, they will LIVE in Arabic 24 hours a day (and even dream in Arabic, Insha Allah!!).
In another hand, Syrian people speak a colloquial Arabic (Al A’mmia or darija) which is easy to understand and very close to formal standard MSA Arabic (Al Fus-ha) due to historical and geographical reasons. Their spoken language remains the closest to Classical Arabic, enabling the students to continue their lessons outside the classroom, practicing in everyday life, with almost everybody.
Syrian Arabic is the most useful and accessible of all the Arabic dialects. It is almost identical to dialects in Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan and it is widely understood all over the Arab world. This gives the great possibility to use classical Arabic with Syrians, who understand it perfectly.
The people of Damascus are friendly, opened and hospitable to foreigners. They are always willing to help foreigners to practice Arabic. You can’t imagine how much Syrians appreciate and how happy they are when you speak with them in their language. They are patient and listen to you, even if you speak slowly and making lots of mistakes. In this way, you can fully participate to the daily life of the city (shopping, bargaining, having friends, meeting people, working jobs).
Dimashq is the most traditional and authentic place to study. As of yet, big malls and fast food culture are not part of everyday life. We don’t find Mac Donalds, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Coca or Pepsi monopole, the western cultural and commercial invasion. Syria has less mass-tourism, which means more traditional and natural atmosphere, is less westernized which means more originality and more confidence in Arab identity, is more educated which means easier and better access to local community for language practice and cultural immersion.
For Muslims, one can immerse himself in the appropriate atmosphere: there are mosques everywhere and the Adhan can be heard five times a day from every mosque. Although it is a conservative society, people are free to practice their religion.