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