Returning to life in Jordan after five months in the United States has unexpectedly felt natural, easy even. Last summer, I studied Arabic for two months in the same area of Amman and fell in love with the language, people, and culture. While my academic program at my home institution requires a semester abroad in one’s language and region of study, my decision to come back to Jordan was both easy and uncompromised. Learning Arabic has easily been one of the most challenging endeavors of my life, but it has also been the most rewarding. I met my best friends in Arabic class in Oxford, MS, and I’ve already made lifelong friends through CET Jordan. That being said, my first two weeks back in Amman have been filled with the best surprises, countless power outages, a ton of Arabic, and much-awaited reunions with my favorite restaurants and their owners. Now, enjoy some of my favorite moments from my first two weeks back in Jordan. From Jordan’s cafe culture, Yemeni cuisine, Jordanian hospitality, and unexpected freezing weather, I am learning to love and appreciate Jordanian culture more and more every day- no matter what it throws at me!
- Amman has a huge cafe culture. Frankly, after a few days of exploring Amman, there is not much to do (especially during the frigid winter months). Therefore, most students will spend their time in cafes and relax, smoke shisha, and enjoy juice, tea, or coffee while studying or catching up with friends. After class, my friends and I typically do the same and go to a nearby cafe to study, chat, and drink fresh juice or tea.
- Aside from Amman’s cafe culture, one of the city’s most special characteristics is its hospitality. Therefore, one of my first stops upon returning to Jordan was my favorite restaurant, Bab Al Yemen (in my opinion, the best Yemeni food in all of Jordan). My usual waiter remembered me and my order (saltah wa kubz kateer wa shai karak), and I instantly felt at home again. I found that most of the waiters and owners from restaurants I frequented over the summer still remember my name and order as well!
- The biggest surprise of my stay so far has been the hardly-bearable cold weather. While I was told that Amman is cold in the winter, I did not quite think it through that winter would entail temperatures below 50 degrees along with rain, snow, and wind. On my first full day, I woke up (still jet-lagged and running on 3 hours of sleep) to rain and 35 degree weather. Needless to say, I was not prepared emotionally or materially. However, I bought a coat today, so things are looking up.
All in all, I am so excited to be able to say ahlan wa sahlan (again), to Jordan and its people, and I am expectant and ready for the new challenges and experiences that await me on my journey learning Arabic, interning, and studying the Middle East in Amman this spring.