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.