A week ago I was waking up at an ungodly hour to drag my fifty pound suitcase through the deserted cobblestone streets of Florence, and after a train, bus, and plane I finally landed in Amman, the city that will be my home for the next few months.
The other exchange students and I spent our first few days orienting ourselves to this new strange land. Because we have such a small group (8 students and 2 staff!), we’re able to do some really cool things together. For example, at one point during the walking tour we ended up on the rooftop of a man who has a flock of pigeons. We all hung around excited and exhausted, drinking coffee while pigeons landed on our heads.
Since I’ve been living abroad for the past six months, I feel as if I’ve been in the process of warming up for life in Jordan all year. I’m comfortable with language barriers and consulting maps on a regular basis and feet that are tired from walking and converting prices to USDs in my head. Jordan suits me. The market downtown with men yelling at you to buy their oranges or tomatoes, the plethora of shawarma stands, and the way that religion is infused into all parts of people’s lives here: all things that are making me fall in love with Amman.
And spending time exploring the city is just one part of my life. The university is where I end up spending most of my time, and it’s located a little outside Amman. The campus is set in the middle of gorgeous hills (or mountains, depending on who you’re asking), and it’s right across the street from a few restaurants that sell pizza and hummus and hookah mostly to students.
Al-Ahliyya Amman University really reminds me a lot of the university I attend at home in a strange way. There are roughly the same number of students and the campus is a similar size (not to mention it’s on a steep hill). Besides the fact that the signs for buildings are written in Arabic and the average female student has her hair covered and the warm weather, it’s pretty similar.
This has been such a fabulous first week in Jordan, and I am really excited to get to spend the next several months here exploring, learning Arabic, working towards understanding Middle Eastern culture, and eating falafel. Ma asslama!
You can follow Elika’s other adventures abroad on her personal blog www.elikaa.blogspot.com.