As the program is winding to a close, my friends and I are trying to accumulate as many new experiences as possible. The first step out of our comfort zone was earlier this week when we embarked on an adventure to go to the police station to extend our visas. Allison, Lauren, and I all decided to go together after class as we had all traveled to Israel and, therefore, had to jump through extra hoops.
Israel does not stamp your passport upon arrival to and departure from their country, primarily due to the hesitation of many tourists who fear they will be denied entry into other Arab countries such as Lebanon and Syria who refuse to acknowledge Israel as a country and prohibits anyone who possesses an Israeli stamp to enter their borders. Israel streamlines this process by issuing visas and stamps on separate pieces of paper.
Even though there is no proof of entry into Israel in my passport, there is proof of our exit in the Jordanian computer system. However, the Palestinian border crossing station doesn’t issue passport stamps when leaving Palestine, as it believes the West Bank is still part of Jordan and tourists “technically” haven’t left the country so they do not need a stamp or proof of reentering Jordan. Basically, the Jordanian authorities have proof of us leaving but not returning. To remedy this mess, we had to go the Ministry of Residency and Borders to get a re-entry stamp in our passports saying we did, in fact, come home to Jordan legally.
After this fiasco, we then had to go to the Tariq Police Station in the suburbs of Amman to get our visa extension so we could legally live in Jordan until May. If we hadn’t gotten this, we would have had to pay a 1JD per day overdue fine upon our exit at the airport.
To make this adventure more palatable, Allison and I decided to buy a bag of nuts from the stand outside of the University to eat during the long cab ride. The bag cost 2JD to fill, so we split it as 1JD each. The bag was about the size of a tube of tennis balls and took us the entire afternoon to finish. We let the man give us a “mix” which turned out to be sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, sugar covered peanuts, and strange balls that resembled Kix or Reeses Puffs cereal. I would definitely visit the nut man again, but next time I will ask for no sunflower or pumpkin seeds. They were over-salted and hurt my taste buds after awhile.
The second adventure of the week happened this afternoon when Allison, Caroline, and I went to Taj Mall in search of cute clothes to take on Easter break. We didn’t find much, but we did buy these!
Allison was supposed to get one, too, but decided not to at the last minute! It only cost 5JD for both of us together, so about 2.5JD each! That is only $4 including the earring! I was originally toying around with the idea of a tattoo (sorry Mom and Dad!) but Lauren talked me out of it with her wise advice, “Everyone travels abroad and then gets a ‘meaningful’ tattoo about it. It isn’t so original.’” Allison, Caroline, and I then decided on getting matching cartilage piercings since they are easy to take out and the hole isn’t easily visible.
Getting the piercing was, of course, another Jordanian goose-chase. We had planned on going to Claire’s in the mall, because that is where most girls go in America to get their ears pierced. We went to the basement of Taj Mall to Claire’s and were informed that they do not do piercings, but the pharmacy down the hall does. Who has ever heard of a pharmacy piercing body parts next to diet pills and wart cream?! It didn’t hurt any more than my traditional ear lobe piercings. We are allowed to change the earring after a week, but I will probably keep it in until I get home and can buy cute ones.
Tomorrow is the CIEE farewell dinner at the Landmark hotel, the same hotel where we met for orientation. It is a combination of the Language & Culture, Diplomacy, and Arabic Language programs AND all the host families of the 120 students! It should be a good time and delicious, free food!
Also on a positive note, we celebrated the completion of my 15 page research paper by baking cookies and eating an entire carton of Cookies & Crème ice cream!