Marhaba!

15 Sep

I’m in Jordan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sadly, however I’m in the hotel with the other homestay students and the internet is not the best AND my computer will undoubtedly die at any moment now!! I will be meeting my host family tomorrow =) AND they have internet! Yesssssssssssss.

Quick overview:

Traveling to Jordan wasn’t bad as far as the flight goes. I actually watched three full movies and didn’t sleep at any point. What I did find to be annoying was the lack of hospitality I received from the airport in Dulles (DC), not very friendly.

I didn’t meet students in the program until my connecting flight in Amsterdam which was cool because I got a chance to meet a few people and that way I wasn’t alone going through customs in Jordan and figuring out where to go to exchange money and what not.

My first impressions of Jordan were breathtaking. The air felt AMAZING, in part because I had spent almost a majority of the day enclosed in an airplane. A staff member from CIEE met us at the airport with a sign that read, “CIEE”. He had a huge smile on his face and was very welcoming. which was a great way to start.

We were transported from the airport to the BelleVue hotel in Amman where only the homestay participants were staying. I was greeted by smiling faces and presented my packet that detailed the orientation schedule, Jordan map, course schedule, and the coveted information about my host family. We also were given the opportunity to purchase mobile phones so that we could have local numbers to be reached in cases of emergencies. (Its not a BlackBerry and I can’t tweet or check email from it which is disheartening but I’ll live).

The next day the program took us all to the Dead Sea to start our orientation process. Yup, I said the Dead Sea. We went to the very top of a mountain to visit the panorama site where we sat through presentations and checked out the museum there before actually going into the sea; (FYI the mud is free and after it rinses from your skin it leaves it uber soft).

Sidenote: my roommate in the hotel is also my roommate with the host family! We had no idea. We just kinda of figured that out randomly Tuesday morning. I was describing my family and so was she and we started to notice one to many similarities which led us to believe that we were with the same family.

Some things that caught me off guard that I found myself having to adjust to in Jordan:

1. The fact that Jordan is a country with little to no water supplies affected more then I thought. For example, it was interesting to find that something as simple as flushing toilet paper is actually not ok. It takes entirely too much water to flush toilet paper and the piping structures are not built for it so instead all toilet paper must be thrown in trash cans rather than the actual toilet. I didn’t know that until I got here. It took some getting used to but it definitely put a lot of things into perspective.

2. TRAFFIC!! AY CARAMBA! I thought DC was bad. Nope Jordan definitely has DC and New York beat by like a million. Its so funny because there are lanes but no one really follows them and especially not around the “circles”. Its so serious that everyday approximately 7 Jordanians die from traffic related accidents and death by automobile accounts for 44% of deaths in the country. Intense. I learned quickly that pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way so I will be looking left and right 4 times over before crossing the street.

3. Apparently smiling to members of the opposite gender could constitute an invitation to get together and I don’t mean to study. This one was hard for me to grasp because I smile to anyone and everyone. Nonetheless, after the safety and health briefing we had in our orientation today I will surely comply with every rule no matter how hard I think it will be to overcome.

4. BEING so many hours ahead!!!! I’m all discombobulated.

5. The food here is AAAAAAAAAAAAAMAZING!!! I need to watch out before I become too attached and then not want to return to fatty American food.

There are more things but due to battery power I think I will stop here and continue once I get everything charged.

Overall, though, I am LOVING EVERY MINUTE SO FAR. I have already seen so many amazing things and met so many wonderful people and learned about the culture in ways I seriously doubt a textbook would have been able to.

Oh! I have to add this one tid bit. So, Tuesday when we went to the Dead Sea we did an exercise about unity and oneness amongst the CIEE group so that we could all get to know each other and become a collective rather then feel like we are in Jordan alone. The ice breaker was cute and simple. it entailed the director saying phrases and if it was true for you then you would stand up and if not then you sit down. When she started talking about majors she said, “I am an International Relations major”…at least half of the students stood up. Then she followed with, “I am an Middle Eastern studies major”…at least a quarter of the students stood up. Then she added some others like politics, business, etc. Keep in mind she took all the phrases from the information she gathered from all of our applications. Finally she had saved the best for last. “I am a Fashion Merchandiser”…who do you think stood up…me. Just me. I heard a stream of applause, bowed, and sat back in my seat. It was quite hilarious and I heeded many jokes thereafter but I loved it. After all not only am I here to enjoy myself and learn but also to set the record straight. You do not have to be restricted to a area to study abroad based on your major. You can go any and everywhere no matter what. The entire world is open to you.

Until next time inshallah,

xoxo

Ashley

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