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By Dominique Bonessi

Amman may not be a New York or a DC with plenty of areas to spread out and study in the sun or walk around, but there the one thing they do have are awesome cafes for studying.

Every weekend I have made it my job to find the best of these cafes by word of mouth, the internet, or just walking around popular areas in Amman.  Here are my top three favorite study places in Amman:

  1. Turtle Green Café: Rainbow Street near 1st Circle.  If you’re missing home and need a place that offers reasonably priced beverages and food Turtle Green is the perfect vibe for you.  This tiny two floor coffee shop is just the surface of the hipster culture in Amman.  The beverages range from Jordanian classics like lemon-mint juice to lattes to green tea shakes.  The salads are also made with fresh ingredients and zesty dressings.  For a study space the café has everything, couches and desks for comfort, free wifi, and the perfect calming tunes of study music.  And if that wasn’t enough there are also really turtles swimming in a tank next to the window.
  2. Beanoz: Across the street from the North Gate of the University of Jordan.  This café has become a hang out spot for my friends and I in between class periods.  The study and relaxation mood changes on any given day along with the music varying with everything from rap to old school Beatles music.  There are very few food options but their omelets, sandwiches, and ice teas are the perfect lunch that is a little more expensive than a regular lunch option, but good for once a week. The barista is also very friendly with everyone and always asks if we need anything.  Finally there is always wifi and chess to play for our entertainment.
  3. Café Paris: Paris Circle Downtown. This isn’t as much of a study place as it is good for a study break.  Tuesday nights are a popular night around 9pm to 12am for drinks, good dance music, and a fun time with friends.  If you couldn’t guess from the title the café is very popular for Jordan hipsters and study abroad college students.  The music varies from hardcore rap to 80s Michael Jackson music, but always a fun time.  The once issue may be the immense about of smoking there is in a given night leaves your clothes smelling nasty, but if you can see past the smoke—no pun intended—you can see this swanky café/lounge offers the best of Jordanian youth culture.

By Dominique Bonessi

After two months in Jordan, yesterday, I finally visited Petra, the historical landmark Jordan is best known for.  We took a day trip three hours driving down to see the ancient site and three hour drive back to Amman.  I didn’t feel like a tourist visiting Petra; I felt like a Jordanian visiting their countries pride and joy.

I also realized yesterday that my time in Jordan is more than half way over and looking back at my first week till now; I have grown in so many ways.

In the beginning of the program, I was shy to speak and talk to anyone for fear my Arabic would be severely judged.  But at Petra, I talked to the locals and on a daily basis now I am able to have regular conversations in Arabic with my University of Jordan friends, my host family, and my classmates.  This has become especially helpful when getting into taxis and the taxi driver asks where I am from.  I often lie to him and tell him I am from Spain that way he can’t speak to me in English and is forced to speak in Arabic to me.  No one really knows Spanish, although one driver decided he was going to tell me every word he knew in Spanish.

Another big challenge was to budget my money at the beginning of this program.  I have come to realize that since Amman is not a walking city taxis rides are a must, but they can add up and become very expensive. In addition, to this issue I also realized that in the first part of the semester I didn’t venture off during the weeknights to do homework with other people or go to cultural events. So instead of returning to home to my house after school, I have been going to the gym almost every day after classes, from there I have been trying to make an effort to get out with my fellow Jordanians and experience Amman.

Granted Amman definitely isn’t my favorite city to live in like DC or New York, but I was told my host mom’s sister that in order to like Amman—and maybe even love it—is by making friends and seeing Amman in all its splendor and not so splendor. During the weekends, I have also tried to get out of my house when we don’t have planned trips and go to a café to do homework.  I have also started a Spanish-Arabic conversational group with a few Jordanian friends and classmates.  The Language Center at the University of Jordan offers a wide variety of languages and most of the students concentrate on two to three languages at a time.  Many of my Jordanian friends who are learning Spanish for their first time have really good Spanish accents too.  At the same time I get to use both my Arabic and Spanish to talk with people, but most of the time I have just been mixing the two while I talk.

With only a month and a half before I leave Jordan, I still have so much I want to do.  First, I would love to take a day trip to Muqaba to see the ancient mosaics, I also want to swim in the Dead Sea, and find a new café every Saturday to do homework in.  I know my time here is short, and I know that I only get to do this one study aboard in my undergraduate year, so I want to do well in classes, but also have more fun befriending locals and experiencing the culture.