An Excerpt From Julia Newton’s Blog: Jules Around The World (Malone University, Ohio)
Guess what – I have already been here for over two months already! It has been a mosaic of very different, very new, and very surprising experiences. Some things have been big and exciting (like visiting Roman Ruins and Petra and Jerusalem, evidence of which resides in previous blogposts), but most of it has been adjusting to a life of everyday routines and making the foreign into the norm.
These things may be common and unexciting, but this is my life most of the time. And really, even though I have more motivation to write about the crazy adventures we have every once in a while, in order to get a true taste of my life you need a picture of the valley as well as the mountain top experiences. So here is a snapshot of daily life here in Amman.
- Taxi riding
I am a country girl. I experienced my first taxi at age 11 in NYC, and I have been in maybe a handful or two of cabs since then. When they told us that we would be traveling all over Amman by taxi, I was honestly nervous. What about the language barrier? What counts as appropriate interaction with taxi drivers? What if they rip us off?
You know what I learned? All of those are very, very valid questions (especially the last one, let me tell you). But I also learned that riding in taxis is entertaining and educational, and they do not need to be feared in the least. That being said, there were many a time when we would be standing out on a curb in groups of three or four, sweat dripping down our necks in the 100+ degree heat, mentally cursing the lack of yellow cabs right when we needed to get to our Arabic courses. Catching a cab is a combination of luck and skill, heavily leaning towards the former.
Closely related to the former is a snapshot of this beautiful city. Amman is the capital of Jordan, and it is large, modernized, busy, and surprisingly safe for a city of its size (there are approximately 4 million inhabitants – it’s huge). It is split into the more modern/developed West Amman (where I live), and the more historical “downtown” of East Amman, where there is more poverty but a lot of cool Jordanian shops and restaurants. Every once in a while we take a break from doing homework in our apartment to exploring more of the city.
3. Service Projects
One of the reasons why I was so excited to join MESP was because of the program’s built-in service project system. It is a requirement for everyone enrolled to attend a once-a-week service project opportunity, which are assigned in the beginning of the semester. Three of my friends and I were assigned to help tutor English to Jordanian kids at the American Academy at Zarqa (a town about 45 minutes outside of Amman).
It takes about an hour and a half of two taxis and a long public bus system to get there each Tuesday, but it is totally worth it. First off, the four of us are a super-team. We have already decided that we are both a four-person band and an [extremely] unofficial curling team. (We were taught the rules of curling during one of the long bus rides. We’re practically theoretical professionals by now.) I am constantly thankful to be going with such cool people, since we spend an inordinate amount of time sitting next to each other in various kinds of public transportation.
And then there’s the children. Kids everywhere are adorable, but Jordanian children are adorable (and hilarious and stubborn and beautiful). We get to work with various ages from 1st to 4th grade, and though we usually just help the kids with reading, we have also helped with homework. Have you ever tried to explain body cells to someone who doesn’t speak English? It’s harder than it sounds. It’s exhausting but also oddly satisfying work, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to invest in the lives of these young Jordanians.
How would a post about life be complete without mention of sustenance itself? I love food. It’s almost a problem (“But is it really?”, I often ask myself). I was afraid that I wouldn’t like Middle Eastern food, but both thankfully and unluckily I love almost everything that has made contact with my taste buds. Here are a couple of the more delicious (or just notable) items in my daily menu.
And there it is – such is life for an American college student living in Amman for a couple short months. There is so much more to share – about grocery shopping and scrounging the cupboards for food, about our shared devo times every morning, about how we watched an entire season of Survivor while we procrastinated writing a particularly daunting paper – but I will have to leave those details for the especially curious.