During our many pre-departure orientations, DU constantly warned us of the rollercoaster of emotions that studying abroad would inflict. The theory is that students will experience a euphoric high upon arrival but soon crash and be miserable with homesickness. After these two extremes, the student’s mood will continue to fluctuate between happiness and sadness until eventually leveling out as he becomes accustomed to the new culture. Being a visual learner, the numerous graphs they showed have always been in the back of my mind, prompting me to analyze my current mood and place myself on the curve appropriately. Sometimes, usually during the middle of the week when I am bogged down with classes and homework, I feel the occasional sense of exhaustion and longing for familiarity. However, more often than not, I place myself near the “euphoric” side of the curve, cherishing all of my new friendships and incredible opportunities I am given on a weekly basis. This past weekend was certainly no exception.
Thursdays are the most popular night to go out in Amman and they always seem to be the most eventful for me and my friends. After class ended at 12:30pm, Allison and I ventured into a new neighborhood near campus in search of Habibeh. It is the most famous sweets shop in Amman and we wanted to get a “thank you” gift for Jomart and Nart’s mom who invited us for dinner that night. The shop ended up being quite the trek away. After 30 minutes of walking along the busy university street, we found it and treated ourselves to the traditional Jordanian dessert of knafeh before buying the gift. Luckily for us, the shop owner told us our dessert was on the house after we chatted and he found out we were, in fact, not Russian but American. This is the second time someone has assumed I am Russian!
We picked out a platter of dessert dates (another Jordanian “thing” that has grown on me -dates are delicious!) and walked back to campus. On the way, I decided to do my CIEE homework of photographing 5 things I found obvious in my surroundings and 5 things I didn’t understand. I found this task hard as I have overcome the barrier and learned to accept Jordan for what it is, quirks and all. I have only been here for one month and I already feel extremely at home!
After we picked up the desserts, we went to Jomart and Nart’s house. After a DELICIOUS dinner of lasagna, steak, mashed potatoes, and salad, we all sat around and chatted over tea. It reminded me of high school and how my friends were so comfortable with each other that we could make even a boring night at home extremely enjoyable. Jomart and Nart have a younger brother named Bert who is so eager to teach us Arabic. He and Andrew have nicknamed me مسكلجية – “mis-kell-gia,” or troublemaker, because I am always doing something strange to spice up the situation. I swear I learn more Arabic from my friends than I do in class!
Around 10pm we ventured out to find the elusive Dubliner’s pub. After 45 minutes of wandering around town, half of our large group decided to go home. Andrew, Jomart, Nart, Joey, and I decided to check out Queen Vic’s pub after hearing good things. It turned out to be full of old people and smoke. That is definitely not my kind of place. I texted BJ, one of the Americans studying in Irbid whom we had met a few weekends ago, and it turned out they were back in town and invited us to come join them at a club named Flow. After another 30 minutes of attempting to find Flow, we arrived in Abdoun, the extremely wealthy part of town. Apparently Flow is an extremely exclusive club and you need reservations to enter. I worked my charm, which really just consisted of looking disappointed, and the bouncer let us all in.
CIEE warned us that Amman is a small town, and this couldn’t be truer. Despite never having heard of Flow before, I felt like I knew half of the people in the club! Several people from the program, including my roommate, were there, plus all of the Irbid kids. We spent the night dancing and eventually left around 3am. The Irbid kids hadn’t made definite plans for a hotel, so I volunteered our apartment. Around 8 of them spent the night on the floor of our living room. It looked like a refugee camp, but I feel like I embodied the full meaning of Jordanian hospitality!
The rest of the weekend was relaxing. On Saturday, I went on our last CIEE day trip to see the Biblical sites in Jordan. I definitely won’t miss waking up at 6:30am on a weekend, but I will miss the delicious food and chance to hang out with people not in my classes. Here are a few pictures with descriptions of the sites.
I signed up for CIEE’s weekly activity on Tuesday to attend a Jordanian cooking session to make maqlouba, a Middle Eastern dish of meat and rice that is served upside down! I will definitely take photos to post. Also sometime this week I am going to meet with Caroline and Allison to make plans for a weekend trip to the West Bank on March 8-9th. We plan to see Jerusalem and Bethlehem on the trip. We are also going to do a weekend trip sometime in April to go to Tel Aviv, Israel. Most students go to these places on the weekend because they are so close. Our bus trip to the Jordan River, which is the border of the West Bank, was only 30-45 minutes! It is incredible to think of how much fun I have already had and then to realize I am only ¼ of the way through this amazing adventure.