A lot of firsts

Trip Start Jan 30, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Dawar Waha

Flag of Jordan  ,
Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hello, everybody! I hope you are all doing well.

It is currently 6:11 AM in Amman, and as you may guess I can't sleep. I thought I was pretty much over jetlag but here it is ruining my sleep schedule once again.

I have been in my apartment for three days now, and it has been a lot of firsts.  When I first got into my apartment I couldn’t believe how big it is.  We have two living rooms, a dining room, a kitchen, three bed rooms, and two bathrooms for only three people.  I honestly think they could fit six of us in here and it would still be big.  After we settled into our rooms we went shopping at Carrefour for basic supplies.  Carrefour is basically like Wal-Mart on steroids.  Food here is so cheap; for all three of us we only spent 64 JD (which is about 80 USD) on a completely full cart. 

We had quite an adventure on our way back.  None of us really knew how to get back but we had the directions that CIEE gave us.  Unfortunately street names in Amman are about 2 years old; everyone here tells directions by landmarks instead.  So when we told the cab driver where to go he took us to the area, but then we could navigate how to get home.  Luckily he was really nice, and stopped four different times to ask people if they spoke English and could help us navigate our map.  Finally one of the guys he asked pulled out his phone and called our landlord’s number for directions.  When we stopped our driver even wrote down directions for our next cab drivers.  On the plus side, being lost in our neighborhood really helped me to navigate the area, and after that experience I can get back pretty well.

Thursday we had our final day of orientation at the university, where we just talked about different school policies.  I live really close to the school it only takes about a 7 minute cab ride (that only costs about .5-.8 JD, depending on traffic and rain), which is really great for me because I tend to run on the late side.

Their weekend is Friday and Saturday, and they go to mosque on Friday.  For my first weekend my roommates and I have basically traveled around the city to see different places and find good places to eat and whatnot.  I’ve tried a lot of different food here, and surprisingly like a majority of it.  At one of this place to get falafel, we all got this tea, and I swear it tasted like hot sweet tea.  I took one sip and I was like, "Oh, my God.  This is just like sweet tea from home!"  My friends just laughed and said I could go there if I was homesick. 

My roommates’ names are Amartya and Olivia.  Amartya is from Arkansas but she goes to school at Vassar in New York City; Olivia is from Pennsylvania and goes to school at the University of Pittsburgh.  They are both really nice and give great directions to places which is very good because I don’t.  Also if Amartya is making something to eat she’ll make extra for me because of my limited kitchen skills.  Afterward I just do the dishes.  Olivia is really nice also.  Thus far she has shared her extra towel, hairdryer, and scarf with me.  We get along well. 

There is a bunch of different customs that I am getting used to here, as well.  In this society women and men live completely different lives and they don’t really intersect.  This means that a lot of actions that we as Westerners would view as rude is actually respectful and vice versa.  For starters women don’t sit in the front seat unless the back is completely full; however, when guys get into cabs even if they are by themselves they sit in the front.  Like in the cab the driver as a male will won’t speak to the females in the car, but he will have full conversations about anything with the guy in the front seat.  Also when a cashier gives me change back, he will put it on the counter instead of in my hand to ensure that our hands don’t accidentally touch.  In these situations, the man is being respectful of me and my space as a woman even though we see them as being rude.  I think one of my most respectful cab drivers didn’t speak to me and my roommates but turned the radio onto an American station so we could listen to our music. 

Another thing that I am trying to adjust to is the call to prayer.  We live about a block away from a mosque.  If I’m already asleep, I won’t wake up for the 5AM one, but if I’m awake (like today) I can’t sleep until it is over.  I think when I get back I am going to change my alarm clock to the call of prayer because it is pretty much impossible to ignore. 

Today (Sunday) is my first day of classes.  I have an Arabic review, and then later today I have a security briefing from the US Embassy.  Right now I’m also looking for somewhere to watch the Super Bowl.  It will start airing here at 1:30 AM, so hopefully we can find a sports bar that is planning on staying open for the entire thing.

Anyways, it is now almost 7:30 and I need to start getting ready for classes.  Have a good day; I love and miss you all.
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Carrie on

Carrefour is a french store! Sounds like you are having a blast! I miss you!

Elyse on

Glad to see someone is feeding you:)

Jo Stones on

Ha ha love the comment about your room mate feeding you. I remember that your culinary skills were rather basic . Do they have Mac and Cheese over there if so you are so sorted lol. Sounds like your having fun and adapting to the way of life xxx

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