In the morning, I asked the lady at the information desk where the university was. ‘You are currently on the premises. If you walk 100 meters, the university’s buildings will rise up before you,’ she explained.
I left my luggage at the hotel and walked towards the university. It was not difficult for me to find the building and the revered teacher. My revered teacher was an American of Germanic roots sporting an Italian temper in terms of enthusiasm, impulse and heated emotions. His name was Sprenling.
He welcomed me warmly and said ‘I was waiting for you. Dodge wrote to me about you. You are most welcome. Where are you staying at the moment?’ ‘Eldorado Hotel’, I replied. ‘Oh good heavens!’ he exclaimed. ‘It is not a hotel for students. I have reserved a room for you at the student dormitory. Go immediately and fetch your luggage,’ he added.
After I have settled down, the teacher said ‘the summer semester has started and you must register even if you have missed some of it. I want you, above all, to enroll in the phonetics class. This is a main course. I also want you to enroll in the linguistics class of my friend Sapir.’ Sapir was a well-known linguist. ‘The third course you need to attend is archeology. That will do for the summer, then we will decide later what to introduce you to in the fall. I will certainly not ask you to study the Hebrew language with beginners still deciphering its alphabet.’
What about food, sir?
You eat at the Cafeteria.
One of my students will walk you there and show you how to go about it. These are new popular restaurants. Cheap also.
I learned fast, then got down to my studies.
In the fall, the teacher suggested that I take a course in Assyro-Babylonian language with a German scholar who had fled Germany and joined the university and another in theological studies with the then master of theologians, G.M.P Smith. He also suggested that I enroll in an advanced course of Hebrew language. ‘That is enough for now, for I am going to ask you to help me publish the introduction of Ibn Khaldoun. There are several things that I fail to understand.’
He wanted to publish the introduction but eventually backtracked on it. He was most known for being all talk and no action. Yet, he was smart and impulsive.