New Beginnings and Amman Adventures

An excerpt from Caleb Giesbrecht’s blog: Caleb Andrew

As-salamu alaykum from across the world!

For those of you that know me well, you’re probably thinking, “Why in the world is Caleb on a blog,” and it’s true. If anyone knows me you’ll know that I cannot process inward very well and this blog will most likely be slathered with poor word choices, poor grammatical sentences, and most likely the world record for the longest run on sentences. I was considering creating a vlog (video-blog), but this will have to do for now.

Introductions have concluded. I am in Jordan! I have been living in Amman for the past 10 days, and have loved every second of it. From getting lost in a city with the Arabic language as our map, attempting to flag down a taxi in the crazy busy roads, sitting in awe as said taxi driver attempts to create their own lane in the road, or attempting to eat the bounty of food placed in front of you constantly, Jordan has been an exciting escapade, with a new adventure around every corner.

The first week was orientation week, where 16 other students (10 Americans, 6 Canadians and 1 Brit) and myself have been learning the ins and outs of the city, the country, and the vast culture we have arrived in. Luckily for us, our program director and his wife have lived and raised kids in the Middle East for the past 30+ years, so we are in good hands! We have been to many different places within the city, including an ancient roman amphitheatre and citadel that sits on one of Amman’s 7 mountains.

This week we have started some of our classes, including the most anticipated (and most daunting), Arabic. Arabic is a beautiful language spoken or written, and I came to the conclusion that I would pick it up easy. Yea no. That conclusion ended 2 minutes into our Arabic class, when I realized how challenging this language we began to learn. One thing I have learned through our program director and many other speakers and Jordanians (or other Arabs) is that Arabic is more than just a language, it’s a culture. One cannot fully understand one without the other. Our classes are very differently structured then other language courses one would take in North America. It involves 6 students, one nurturer (or “teacher”), no English (she will only speak Arabic), 3.5 hours, 4 times a week. So as you can probably guess it is the most intensely saturated language learning session one could ever encounter, but it is SO effective. The goal of the first few stages of this program is to listen. Listen to your nurturer talk, say nouns, verbs etc. and have it repeated so that it goes to memory. Eventually you begin to respond if she asks you a question, or asks you to participate in some part of the class. However, even after 3 classes I am starting to retain many nouns, verbs, and greetings (don’t ask me to talk yet though. It’s a long way from my brain to my mouth).

Even though I have been here for less than 2 weeks, it feels like home. Jordanians are extremely hospitable and almost everyone I encounter in a mall, cafe, or on the side of the road greets me with a smile. Even though a toddler would know more Arabic than me, it is exciting to interact with the locals here, and of course with my amazingly hilarious classmates as we journey this semester together!

I hope to continually update everyone about my adventures here in Jordan every now and again! As of now I cannot think of much else that I have done here, but I know as soon as I hit “send” I’ll forget 80,000 things I wanted to mention in this blog, so I think I’ll finish it off here.

Caleb G


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