The First Few Days

As I write this post, I’m sitting in one of our two living rooms (Hello, awesome apartment), feeling the cool night breeze coming in through the window, looking out over the picturesque city landscape, and listening to boys playing soccer in the street below (saying about one “yallah” per 30 seconds). Amman is such an incredible city. It’s busy, with cars honking and music playing day and night, but it’s also so welcoming, with strangers telling you “Ahlan wa sahlan!” (Welcome!) with smiling faces. It’s such a surreal feeling that I’m finally in this city that I’ve talked about for months.

It felt like a movie the moment I stepped out of the airport, when the bright sun blinded me and I felt instantly surrounded by the dry heat and accompanying cool breeze. Speaking of weather…the weather in Amman is a dream compared to the weather in Florida. Yes, I get sweaty while walking and I have to drink a lot of water to combat the dry heat, but the high has been around 80 F since we’ve been here. That’s nothing compared to a summer in Florida! As someone from the humid South, I’m still shocked that it is actually cooler standing in the shade and that nights and mornings are fairly cool.
So far, everything has been incredible. Our apartment makes me feel so Jordanian. My roommates and I keep our shoes in the front room, so we don’t track in the dust from outside (like true Arabs). I’ve also been so amazed by the power of the Jordanian people. On our first full day in the city, our study abroad adviser, Mohammad, took us on a walking tour. On the way to the University of Jordan, he pointed out the King Hussein Cancer Center. The center was impressive looking enough, but what is truly is amazing is what Mohammad told us about how it was built. He explained that it was built purely using donations from the Jordanian people- not donations just from millionaires, but donations of dinar after dinar given by normal Jordanians. It seems that everything I learn about the Jordanian people reinforces the idea that they are a strong people that believe in working together for the common good.
In line with that idea, so far I’ve learned that there are two sides of Amman (or any city, for that matter) that you can see. You can experience a taxi driver refusing to start the meter and decide that taxi drivers in Amman are thieves. You can witness men almost falling out of buses so that they can yell at you and your friends and decide that men in Amman are misogynistic and crude. Or you can choose to remember the taxi driver that was extremely kind (in a fatherly sort of way) and insisted you pay less than you owed, according to the meter. And you can choose to remember the stranger that told you “Welcome!” in the parking lot of Carrefour (grocery store) on your first day in the city. And you can choose to remember the man in the store who refused to let your friend pay for the postcards she was going to buy, but gave them to her as a gift. ¬†The latter memories are the memories I choose to focus on. This is the Amman, the Jordan, that I believe in.
I’m so incredibly thankful to be living in this city for the next several months. I love everything here- the truck bringing around gas that plays music, the markets, the music you hear throughout the streets…I’m fully convinced that everyone should visit Amman at least once in their life. Here are some pictures from my time in the city so far:

The most refreshing lemon & mint smoothie in downtown Amman
Seriously the best falafel you will ever have- at Al Quds near 1st Circle
Overlooking West Amman
The ruins of the Temple of Hercules 

Kinafa that will change your life- at a little store close to Hashem’s (where you should also eat) in downtown Amman
Downtown Amman is so beautiful!

 

 

Author: Emily P

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