I’m going to be very honest: my time leading up to Jordan was very emotional. Like, emotional in a bad way. Which was odd, because this grant was something I had worked for and wanted for a long time. I found myself really not wanting to leave the United States—I was so attached to my friends and family back home. I even stayed in my college town for the summer after I graduated because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I tend to get very attached to people and situations. There are things I get used to and can’t imagine my life without: a morning run along a river, late night talks with my best friend, a certain kind of coffee, quinoa and lentils for dinner, etc. I acknowledge that change is good for my soul, but it’s not in my nature to deal with uncertainty in a healthy way. And I just felt uncertain about Amman, about the connections I would make here, and how difficult it would be to be away from the people who love me. But despite the tired complaining of my last post, I have truly been encouraged this first week. I feel very loved and taken care of by people I’ve only just met, which I guess is the Jordanian way. The culture here is very warm and inviting—the moment you sit down at someone’s house they rush to bring you soda or coffee or tea. The moment you stand up to leave is met with inquiries about when you’ll come back, and that you absolutely must return soon. Bas bidi it-tumun alaykun is a favorite phrase of my landlady’s each time she knocks—I just want to make sure you’re ok. I think it would be very hard to feel lonely here, to feel like there is no one to reach out to. Also, my group is incredible. I’ve never met such funny, intelligent, and down to earth people all in once place. I’m writing this in my bed and doing kind of a muted happy-dance under the covers. It’s just been a really great day. Hamdulillah.
We have been in orientation all week, which basically consists of frantic apartment hunting, confusion over residency permits, warnings from the deep-voiced embassy agent with an eye-twitch (“we are on watch for terr-ist actions”), and general feelings of anxiety and inferiority. I’m always hungry, and I’m always tired. There’s been a steady stream of pictures on this blog, first because I have spotty and unreliable wi-fi, and second because my brain is just exhausted. Everything seems hard—navigating Amman, finding a cab at 3 pm, understanding some people’s Arabi Urduni, and keeping my emotions in check. Today, I nearly exploded at the lady behind the counter when I was trying to get my Internet situation figured out. And I’m not usually like that—I’m not a rage-y costumer. Ever. Yet, there I was, in the middle of Cozmo supermarket, shout-talking in a woman’s face because I was not satisfied by my Internet options in Amman. But nonetheless, I have had moments of excitement and genuine happiness within these past few days. I just cannot wait to finally be settled in and have a routine. My to-do list is long and scary, and filled with my doodles that were drawn in lieu of actually accomplishing something. Checked off the list: find an apartment, and buy Nescafe for said apartment. To do: open a bank account, set up Internet somehow, and find a way to exercise. Also, the grocery store just scares me. There, I said it. I don’t know how to buy things like tomatoes, or paprika, or just be an adult in general.
In other news, I finally feel like I have a personality in Arabic. So, baby steps.
The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me.
Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
I’m here! I’m in Amman—it is hot and dry, but very breezy. Jordan is desert-like in its terrain and almost everything is a beige color. I don’t have much to report, I’m afraid I haven’t done very much except sit in the hotel and write things, but I have made some observations. Jordan is a Muslim country, and fairly conservative. I’ve been told that close friendship between men and women is something that does not exist. The women in our group were advised to dress modestly, and not bare too much of our arms or legs. When I walked into the hotel, the security guard couldn’t even check me with the metal beepy thing (does it have a name?) because it would be inappropriate to wave it all around my feminine body…rrrrr. Anyways, I went to the gym shortly after arriving and the man at the front desk sent me down to the “ladies only” section:
Men are really, really not allowed. Also, I saw this sign in the women’s locker room:
No nudity? In a locker room? I was perplexed. But, ladies have to shower…don’t they? The raging feminist in me wanted to run around in booty shorts and a bra! WHY ARE MY LADYPARTS PREVENTING ME FROM DRESSING NORMALLY IN A GYM! But. I’m being overly dramatic. I’m sure one day soon I’ll be able to step back and examine the reasoning behind this segregation in both a sensitive and articulate way. Honestly, I didn’t feel particularly stifled—just strange. My father even told me I should tie my hair back while in Jordan, and not let it run wild and free in its gypsy way (I’m paraphrasing). So, this will be interesting. For now, I’ll just tell you that Amman is a beautiful, breezy city and my hair is in a nice, tame ponytail.