Jordan: Acclimation

Hello there! It’s Caetlind, again. Today I finally decided to sit down and write about one of the hardest situations I’ve faced so far in my journey: adjusting to life in Jordan. Let’s jump into it!

Kanafeh

On January 30th I left my family and friends behind to embark on a journey of a lifetime: 6 months in Amman, Jordan. I had never traveled alone internationally before and was more than anxious to do so. I had a full 24 hour travel day ahead of me and everything went just fine. I had no idea that that would be the easiest part of this whole thing. My program director picked me up from the airport and took me to get kanafeh, a dessert. He was so happy and enthusiastic about Jordan and it was incredible to see. At this point, the shock of being in another country had not hit me yet. I was so excited to finally be here, a place that I had been dreaming about for years and had planned so hard for! After showing me around for bit, he dropped me off at my new apartment and I was finally left to my own devices.

My first actual meal here! Rice and meat rolled in grape leaves.

The realization that I had seen my family and friends for the last time for the next half year had finally hit me. And it hit HARD. How was I supposed to live in a foreign country by myself? With no roommate, no other Americans in my program, and the addition of a language barrier, I panicked. My program director invited me to spend time with his family on my first full day here and I was super excited and nervous. They were the sweetest people! Also, the food was really good, so that was definitely a positive. While I really enjoyed and needed the company, I felt so overwhelmed and jetlagged that I could not keep myself focused. That night I went to my new home and really felt like I had hit rock bottom.

Honestly, the first few days here for me were a complete disaster. I couldn’t get my internal clock onto Jordanian time, the food was wreaking havoc on my body, and I was alone. Nothing could have prepared me for the loneliness I would experience here, even when surrounded by people. I was so discouraged about my Arabic and felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life. Of course this was just me experiencing the initial shock and being completely over dramatic, but it’s difficult to see the sun when you’re in the middle of a storm.

I cannot even begin to describe how fearful I was to be in a foreign country alone. Before I left home I was instructed to never go anywhere by myself, but when I arrived, they assured me of just how safe this place was. Of course I didn’t believe them at first, but once I got the hang of things, I knew I was going to be fine.

Taken on my walk home.

Now that I have been here for a month, I can confidently say that this was not a mistake. I am so thankful to be here and am very grateful for the opportunity. The adjustment was very difficult and honestly, I didn’t start feeling like myself again until about the third week in. The only way I could acclimate was with time, falling into a routine, and having an open mind.

Things work out the way they are meant to. Through adjusting to life here I have become much more go-with-the-flow, my car anxiety has disappeared (if you’ve seen this traffic, you’d totally understand!), and I have grown fond of the country and her people! Studying abroad is supposed to push you to your limits. Personal growth does not happen in your comfort zone and this experience has certainly confirmed that for me!

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