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Wrap-Up

I’ve been back home for a couple weeks now, and am getting back into the swing of things. The past month in Jordan was filled with camping trips (to Wadi Dana, Wadi bin-Hamad, and another Wadi, which I can’t remember it’s name right now….), finals, and good-byes. :-(

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(Wadi Dana)

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Dana #2

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Wadi bin-Hamad

The other thing I’ve been working on throughout the year is a list of things that might be useful for those who want to study abroad in Jordan. I put down a few things as they came to me, and here’s what I ended up with:

-You are studying abroad to experience a new culture. Get out of the house and see everything you can! Don’t do what I did the first month and get into a routine (eat, sleep, class, homework). It’s boring, frustrating, and lame. You won’t be getting to know the people in your program or the locals, and there are some really cool people out there! Besides, why are you paying thousands of dollars to go abroad when you can do the exact same thing at your college/university? Don’t be lame.

Host Families:

-I love my host family. I absolutely adore them, and I couldn’t have gotten a better one. They are awesome.

-Spend time with your host family, if you have one. Since they signed up to have an American live with them for however many months, they’re probably really cool people and actually want to spend time with you. Granted, there are some students that won’t be happy with their family, and I don’t know if the problem is with the student, the family, or a mixture of both.

-Your host mom will probably try to feed you. A lot. And if you only eat a little bit, because you’re not that hungry, she will probably tell you that you’re not eating enough and try to feed you more. And Arab mothers can be terrifying when they want you to eat. SO, you can either: a) tell her that you’re really full…maybe you’ll eat more later, or b) eat slower than your host family, so that they’re not as likely to give you more food…maybe.

Other:

-Bring something American with you—like a book or a favorite movie, as well as food. There were moments when I would have KILLED for a granola bar. (Fortunately they were hard, but not impossible to come by, so I eventually found some. J)  Some people have a peanut butter addiction, and, let’s face it, the peanut butter in other countries just isn’t the same. One girl in my class wanted American coffee, made in an American coffee pot—not Arabic coffee and not Nescafe (which is really popular here).

-Don’t bring anything that’s hand-wash or gentle-wash. You probably won’t be able to do a third load of laundry, since water conservation is so important here, and literally hand washing your clothes isn’t quite the same as using the hand wash cycle…somehow I feel like my clothes never got as clean as they should be…Especially since you’ll be sweating and around people who smoke. Your clothes need to go in a washing machine.

-Since we’re on the topic of water conservation, a lot of people here take showers every other day. If you want to take showers every day (especially in the summer) you can either…

-Join a Gym: If you’re like me and actually like working out, the gym is a great place to take a shower. The only downside is that you have to lug all of your stuff around to classes…(and girls—they have all-female gyms here, so you can work out in tank top and shorts without any problems) or…

-Take “mini showers”: If you feel really, really gross, take a washcloth, put some soap on it, and just wash your face and armpits. And maybe your arms. It’s amazing how much better you feel (especially in the summer, after walking around campus and sweating all day) after washing your face and your armpits. It’s kind of useless, since (in the summer) you’ll start sweating immediately after you get clean, but it still helps a little.

Things I’ve Learned:

-Leave early for the bus. Who knows how long you’ll have to wait at the bus stop.

-Also, you’re going to have to flag down the bus. If you’re at the bus stop and you don’t signal that you want to get on that bus, it may just keep going and you’ll be waiting another 10-15 min.

-Also leave early for taxis. The drivers may or may not decide to take you, especially if it’s anywhere from 3-5pm and everyone’s getting off of work.

-Check the meter when you get into the taxi—it should say .25 ( 25 qirsh/cents). If it doesn’t, tell him to start the meter. If he tries to get you to pay 5 dinar for a taxi ride (which is usually between 1-2 dinar), say no and look for another taxi.

-Don’t throw the toilet paper in the toilet—throw it in the trashcan.

-BYOTP: Bring Your Own Toilet Paper (and hand sanitizer). 95% of the time, the bathrooms won’t have TP.

-Learn how to cross the street. It’s not that big of a deal, once you figure it out. ;-) As long as you make eye contact, the cars will usually stop/swerve/slow down for you.

-It gets freakin’ COLD during the winter. Since Jordanian houses are designed to keep the heat OUT and most houses don’t have central heating, bring layers/LONG UNDERWEAR/hats/scarves/mittens/sweatshirts/sweatpants/slippers/warm, fuzzy socks. It may be the Middle East, but the desert still gets cold during the winter.

-There are pedestrian bridges and pedestrian tunnels. Use them, because that way you don’t have to worry about the cars when you cross the street.

-People are going to straight-up stare at you. Own it.

For the Girls:

-Don’t get in a taxi alone at night. That’s a stupid idea, and while I’ve done it, I don’t like going out alone unless I absolutely have to. There are a lot of good cab drivers. There are a lot of creepy ones. If you get a creepy one and you’re uncomfortable, tell him to let you out here. (“Nizilni houn.”) Inshahallah he’ll comply with your request/demand, and stop to let you out. If not…well…I guess there’s an emergency hotline for a reason. Learn how to jump out of a moving car and roll away from it. (JUST KIDDING.)

-Also, sit in the back, behind the passengers’ seat. A woman sits in front ONLY if there are four of them.

-If you want tampons, stock up before you come because they don’t sell them here.

-When walking down the street, put your “Don’t-mess-with-me-or-I’ll-shank-you” face on and just go. Don’t encourage the cat calls/honking/whatever Al Shabab (the young guys) may say in passing. Just keep going.  Also keep your cell phone accessible, especially when  alone, just in case.

-Don’t be stupid and wear low cut tops or shorts/anything above the knees. Okay, really, you shouldn’t be wearing anything above the knee (though ankle-length is preferable). Doing so will only attract a lot of unwanted attention.

-This should be common sense, but I know of a couple people who have asked questions about tight clothes, so I’ll address it anyway. A lot of girls (both Jordanian and the ones from my program) wear skinny jeans, which is fine. Whatever you do, don’t wear leggings as pants. While some people think it’s fashionable in the US (really, though, nobody wants to see that—it’s disgusting), it’s haram in Jordan.

SassyGayFriend

If only Haram Girl had had Sassy Gay Friend to tell her that those jeggings were not okay………..

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

So long…Farewell….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o48aZ_C52wc

It didn’t really hit me that I was leaving Jordan until a couple of days ago, and even now it’s hard to think about the fact that I may not return for a while (though I definitely want to). But now it’s the night before I leave and my bags are (mostly) packed, I’ve said goodbye to (most) of my friends, done last-minute-shopping, and working on finding transportation to the airport, since I just discovered that my taxi buddy I was going to go with is on a different flight around the same time as mine…the day after I leave. That might be a little difficult to arrange. ;-)

The past month has flown by—there are a couple of hiking trips I should do posts on, but that’ll have to wait until I get back home. Bottom line is, it was a great year, and I’m SO glad that I decided to stay for the spring semester!! I met some awesome people and had some really great experiences, and I think everyone should come to Jordan if they get the chance, if only to discover that a) not all Arabs are terrorists, and b) eat some really great food. (Knafeh, anyone?)

I’ll do a couple of more posts when I get back, but in the meantime, I need to finish packing and say goodbye to everyone. Getting some sleep might be good, too.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Fatima

Turkish soap operas are life-and-death here. I am now addicted to the one my host family watches (which also happens to be the BEST one), called “Fatima.” I don’t watch Spanish soap operas, but I do know from limited exposure to them that those actors can’t act. This is also true for most Turkish soap operas, but “Fatima” is the exception.

“Fatima” is life. Everything can be related to this series. I learned a lot of words (such as “prison” and “rape”) from it, as well as Arabic proverbs, such as “Take the secret from the child” (or, “Kids say the darndest things/exactly what you don’t want them to”) because of it. We’ve learned several phrases in my Colloquial Arabic class that we were able to relate to the show. For example, “Hatt Mustafa mablagh lillee bisalmoh Karim hay aw mayet” (“Mustafa put a price on Karim’s head”), and “Hatto al-shurta Mustafa fii al-nathaara” (The police put Mustafa in jail”). It’s also a great inspiration for our skits in that class. I’m also learning about other things, such as the Turkish legal system, how pretty Turkey is, and how Mustafa went crazy and Kareem turned out to be a decent guy. Also, Fatima cries too much.

Really, though, I thought my NCIS addiction was bad before I came to Jordan. That doesn’t even compare to my Fatima addiction. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I go back home and I won’t be able to watch the saga every weeknight at 7pm.

(“Fatima (Season) 2″)

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bus Stop

This week was crazy busy with homework, tests, and internship applications. I also realized that I only have a little over 10 weeks until I leave (NOOO!!!!!!), which will be filled with a cycling trip, community service, hiking trip, a couple of breaks, and whatever kinds of shenanigans my friends and I can get ourselves into. It’s gonna go by fast.

I’ve gotten used to a lot of things in Jordan–riding the bus, navigating taxis, keeping tissues and hand sanitizer with me at all times, eating falafel sandwiches/showerma/ful/omelets/KANAFA, seeing pictures of the king everywhere, the call to prayer, and seeing people riding donkeys on the street outside of the university. However, there’s always something new. The other day I was walking to the bus stop and heard a strange noise. I looked down the street and…

SHHHHHEEEEEEEP!!

SHHHHHEEEEEEEP!!

That’s right-There was a herd of sheep and goats on the road in my neighborhood. (With their Bedouin shepherd.) Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of them actually in the street (they were behind me and I felt like a tourist weird taking a picture with the guy right there), but I did manage to get a picture when they stopped to graze.

I also saw them on my way home! In a different place, but you get the idea….

On my way home

On my way home

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Adventures in the Desert

The past few weeks have been filled with castles and ruins. We went to Ajlun a couple of weeks ago (which I realized that I never actually posted pictures of…), last week my program took us to Jerash and Umm Qais, and today a group of friends and I went to Umm Al Jimal, which were, well, ruins.

The great thing (which is also really sad) about ruins/ancient sites in Jordan is that they’re like giant playgrounds. Go to Greece/Rome/Pompeii/wherever, and there are signs everywhere saying “DO NOT TOUCH” or “DO NOT CLIMB ON,” etc. Go to any place in Jordan, and…nothing. There is usually a guardrail around the mosaics, so people don’t walk on them…but there also might not be anything protecting them.

Ajlun

Ajlun Castle

Peephole/slot to fire arrows through. (We think.)

Peephole/slot to fire arrows through. (We think.)

Ajlun Castle

Ajlun Castle

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Ajlun Castle + GRASS!

Ajlun Castle + GRASS!

So gorgeous.

So gorgeous.

Love. Grass. So. Much.

Love. Grass. So. Much.

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Bet you didn’t expect to see all of that greenery in the Middle East, did you? It’s amazing what the rainy/winter season does in the north of Jordan. :-)

Jerash was good (again), though I definitely prefer going with a few friends, so we can go wherever we want and take our time. Umm Qais was also gorgeous, and I think it was even better than Jerash.

Umm Qais

Umm Qais

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And then we went to Umm al-Jimal, (which was a Nabatean/Byzantine city and is apparently a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in northeast Jordan, about 17km from the town of  Mafraq.

The nice thing about not having a car is that you never have to worry about parking. The bad thing about having a car is that you have to figure out how to get from point A to wherever your final destination is, which can be interesting.

So the morning started out just spiffy when we discovered that no buses were actually leaving from the bus station next to the Roman Ampitheater (in downtown Amman) because it’s Friday (Muslim holy day–so everything’s closed…at least in the  morning…) Fortunately there was a police station right next to the station and a helpful officer told us to take a servisa (shared taxi) to the next closest bus station. We could either take this servisa from Amman directly to Mafraq (20 dinar) or take a bus to Zarqa, then catch another bus to Mafraq (45 qirsh/cents and 1 dinar, respectively). Being the cheap college kids that we are, we opted for the buses.

The bus rides went fine, until we got to Mafraq. When everyone else (and I mean everyone) on the bus got off, we thought it was the last stop, so we did too. However, it was nowhere near Umm al-Jimal, and fortunately we caught another bus to Umm al-Jimal…kind of. This bus happened to be filled with Syrian refugees (who were all dropped off at the refugee camp, which was absolutely amazing to see. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures, though…) It then took us and the remaining Jordanian to a street, where the driver told us that Umm al-Jimal was “that way.” Fair enough. We got off and started hiking. Where is this place?

There was nothing out there except for a handful of houses, bedouin tents, and herds of sheep.

Just a pleasant stroll through the desert...

Just a pleasant stroll through the desert…

Bedouin tent

Bedouin tent

About 20 minutes into our walk, we fortunately got a ride the rest of the way (God bless them), and went up to the tourist office…which, along with the bathrooms, was locked. Because it’s Friday. The entrance to the actual site was open, however, and we had fun exploring the ancient city.

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Former well?

Former well?

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We managed to see most of the ruins, and eventually started wondering about how we were going to get back, since there was no taxi or bus service nearby–the nearest transportation service was in Mafraq. 17 km away. So we started walking and hoped that someone would come along and give us a ride (which they did, al-hamdulillah!). We got back to Mafraq and managed to get a taxi, which took us directly back to Amman.

I felt like kissing the ground when we got home. It was good to be back.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Pictures

Dead Sea

Dead Sea

Dead Sea #2

Dead Sea #2

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Here are some pictures from the Dead Sea (BTW, I was SHOCKED to see pools in Jordan…Granted, we were at a resort hotel at the Dead Sea, but still…)

I have a lot of other photos that I still need to upload to my computer, so I’ll post those later. :-)

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Spring Semester

So, back in Jordan. The past threee weeks have been packed with orientation, hanging out with other year-longers, meeting new people, and school. It’ll be a good semester.

Here are some highlights….

-Dead Sea (as part of orientation!): So awesome. We went to the Dead Sea Panorama Museum which was interesting and had some orientation activities and lunch before actually going into the Dead Sea. While I had forgotten my swimsuit (Note to self: Go back WITH swimsuit), I did cover my hands and feet in mud and waded in. The minerals in Dead Sea mud are well-known for being good for skin, and my hands and feet were super-soft for days afterward. Who needs a mani-pedi when you’ve got the Dead Sea?

-SNOW: It snowed the other week! It was yucky, rainy, snowy, miserable sort of weather, but it was still snow.

-On the same day that it snowed/rained, my friend and I went to a mosque, called Abu Darwish, which is known for its black-and-white coloring–it almost looks like a chessboard. We went, we saw, took a couple of pictures, were followed around by a couple of people (“Can we take a picture with you? Where are you from?”), and traipsed back to a cafe, where we got dried off and had lunch.

-Yesterday, when all/most of the new students went to Wadi Rum and Petra, I went with a few of my friends from last semster to Ajlun. This semester we can choose one of two overnight trips–Petra and Wadi Rum, or a hiking one later in the semester. Though I loved Petra and Wadi Rum, I’m really excited to go hiking and see a different part of Jordan. Also, riding camels is a part of the Petra/Wadi Rum trip, and this is how I feel about camels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHAIr3bi5CI

It’s a big agricultural area (read: Olive trees and grass), and it was absolutely gorgeous. I cannot tell you how much I love grass. Ajlun also had a castle, which was built by Uzz al-Din Usama, who was a relative of Saladin and was used in defending the city against the Crusaders. So cool.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
 
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