First (almost) Week in Jordan

So, the sabbath here is on Fridays so hopefully (if I can maintain this) I’ll try to put up a new post on here each Friday after church. But yeah! I made it through my first week in Jordan. After a four hour flight from Salt Lake to Washington DC, a nine hour flight from DC to Vienna, Austria and a three and a half hour flight from Vienna to Amman we got into Jordan around two in the afternoon local time on Sunday. I came in with a fairly large group of students from BYU and there was a representative from the local institute where we’ll be studying (Qasid) waiting to put us on a bus and take us to our apartments. I’m living in an apartment with five other guys, and thankfully it’s the closest apartment to Qasid. Everyone else either has to take a taxi or walk half an hour or so to get to class but we’ve got a five minute walk to get there. So that’s nice for us.

On Monday we all met up at Qasid for some program orientation. Guys, gals and married couples all counted the group runs around 40 people or so. After a couple hours at the school they took us out on a bus to show us around the city and give us a general feel for where everything is. We went a lot of places and a lot of it just where things are got jumbled around in my head a bit but there are lots of places I’d like to go back and give a less abbreviated visit.

Tuesday we were given the day to settle in before starting class on Wednesday, so I went out exploring with one of my roommates, Chris. The first place we went was back down to the middle of the city where the largest souq (market) is located. We had fun walking around there for a while and even stopped and talked to a few people. We met this one shop owner named Khaled who we talked to for over half an hour in fact. One of the things he told us that I thought was pretty funny was how his grandfather met his grandmother. Apparently his grandfather was a soldier in the army of the Ottoman Empire and rode a camel down to Yemen, where he met and married a local girl and eventually brought her back to the Levant. I dunno, maybe you had to be there, but the way he told the story was pretty funny (By the way, this story came up as part of him telling me that I need to get married. Apparently it’s not only in Utah where people give you lectures about getting married after finding out you’re 25 and single).

Right in the middle of Amman are some old Roman ruins. So after talking to Khaled, Chris and I made out way over there. It was really cool! I ran up to the top while Chris stayed down on the stage. The acoustics were really good; I could still hear him talking at a normal volume all the way at the top. There was a small museum attached which we looked around as well.

The city’s old citadel was at the top of the hill opposite the amphitheater so we decided to just climb up the side of the hill to check it out. We kinda had to climb over a small wall to get inside and once we did we realized there was a main gate on the other side of the hill for tourists to pay to get in and look around. Whoops. Since then we’ve been referring to this incident as our storming of the citadel. It was so cool up there though! Paradise for a history nerd like me. On the top of the hill were the ruins of a Roman temple, the Temple of Hercules. A short walk away was an old Bronze Age cave. Near the cave were the remains of a Byzantine church. And past that was an old Umayyad mosque and the ruins of the attached royal complex. So much history! I was geeking out walking from place to place and just thinking about the events that took place there. This spot used to be a throne room. These used to be small apartments where government workers lived. It was so cool!

Wednesday we had to snap back to reality and begin going to classes. We’ve been divided up into classes of about 8 students each for the first couple hours of the day and then we have an hour all together with Dil, the program director. My small class teacher is a guy named Fadi, and he seems really cool. Outside of actual classes each of us has two one-on-one writing appointments with a teacher each week and three speaking presentation appointments. We’re also supposed to get in two hours a day (Sunday through Thursday) of speaking with a native on our own. So with our appointments, speaking assignments, class and homework for class we should be staying pretty busy.

Wednesday and Thursday after class and working on homework I went out to a few different places around Amman. I guess a pretty happenin’ place in town is Rainbow Street. I’ve been there a couple times now and I dunno if it’s really my scene but there are some cool things down there I suppose. I guess it’s kinda like the hangout place for Jordanian hipsters. There are a lot of small restaurants and shops. I did find this nice little bookstore just off of Rainbow where I came across a book of Jordanian colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions. Score.

Aside from that, I’ve just been trying to adjust to the time change and find delicious Jordanian street food. I’ve already had some pretty decent shawarma and falafel. Early in the week I bought a small, cheap cellphone for the time I’m here and the guy I bought it from invited me and the handful of other students I was with to have mansaf with him and his family today, but when we went after church he flaked out on us. It’s too bad, any time I ask the taxi drivers what their favorite food is every single one of them says mansaf. So I was really looking forward to trying it. Oh well. Another time, insha’allah.

So here’s to the upcoming week! I can’t wait for the next adventure!