One month and two days after arriving in Amman, Jordan, it feels like I have been here for years. Not meaning that the time has gone slowly, but rather I have developed a routine that has transformed me from traveler tourist to resident. I have finally found a solid route to and from school. I have found the local grocer and know how the store works. I have decorated my room to make it feel more home-y. Then, two days ago we had a scary incident.
The Attempted Burglary
I’m deep in a dream when the doorbell rings. My mind incorporated the ring into my dream and I stayed fast asleep. An hour later, the doorbell starts ringing nonstop. I roll out of bed and wake my roommates. We walk to our living room and hear half a dozen male voices outside. 3 girls vs. 6+ men. We calculated the odds and decided we didn’t want to go outside without knowing who was out there, and what they wanted. So, we decided to go up to our landlords apartment from the inside stairs. He wasn’t there, but from upstairs we could look out the window and see a cop car in front of our apartment and our landlord outside. We went outside to find every male on the block talking loudly and quickly in Arabic. Our neighbor who before this incident we had never met explained the events of the night. He was going to bed when he looked out the window and saw a man creeping around our house and looking in our bedroom windows. He knew that it was American girls living there, so he went outside his house and kept watching. When he saw the man start to go into the glass entry way of our apartment, he caught him and called the police, after ringing our doorbell, which was the first ring I heard. Now, our front door has a regular lock and two bolt locks on the top and bottom, so chances he would have gotten into the house are very slim, but it was a very scary experience. The most freaky part for me was being woken up abruptly in the middle of the night to someone violently and continuously ringing our bell. As a result of this incident, we are going to move to a different apartment that will be on the 2nd floor, instead of the first.
Other students and Classes:
I was shocked when I arrived to find out that there are only 11 students total studying abroad with AMIDEAST, a much smaller number than I was expecting. Five men, six women. In my Arabic class there are only two of us. My content courses have anywhere from three to nine other students. So, while the small number was initially disappointing, it has allowed for me to have a more intimate connection with the other students. Within 2 weeks most of us had become great friends. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am used to being surrounded by more liberal leaning peers. Many of the other students have drastically different political beliefs from me which sparked many intelligent and passionate debates. This has been such a great experience, but a challenging one because I have become so accustomed to liberal assumptions in my daily life. Our group selected the team name of Amman a Boat, hence the title of this post.
Arriving in Jordan during Ramadan has been one of my most cherished experiences here so far. Some of my peers found it very annoying because they were not permitted to eat or drink in public and all the restaurants were closed during the day, but I really thought it was beautiful. Because Ramadan was in the summer this year, the schools didn’t start until after Eid. During the holiday month the entire city alters its daily routine. The majority of people sleep-in until late afternoon and stay up until sunrise for the first prayer of the day. Having fasted in the states for several years, I never understood the magic of Ramadan until I found myself in an Arab country. There are very few examples of an experience that almost everyone in a society experiences. My Arabic teacher tells me that his children are too young to fast, but he can’t get them to eat during the day because they want to fast like everyone else. There is a strong sense of camaraderie here that connects a child on the street with a stranger walking past, the store keeper, with his patron. There is a sense of responsibility and understanding for each other. For example, everyone looks out for the children here. They talk to them in the streets; they will touch their heads and play with a child that they don’t know at all. It’s this bond that would make a neighbor tackle a burglar to protect girls that he has never met. This may be me fantasizing about the Jordanian and Arab Culture. I can’t help but wonder, if Americans had shared experiences, such as Ramadan would many people in the states feel less alone?
UPDATE: My New Friends
After getting my cellphone and my Jordanian number from AMIDEAST I contacted my friends that I had met on the plane. They immediately insisted that I come over to their house the next night. My roommate Kate and I hopped in a taxi, and had them give directions to the taxi driver over the cell phone. Once in their apartment we were served plates of desserts and fruits. The next night we were invited over for dinner. Um Tarek prepared Munsif, a traditional dish of Palestine and Jordan that includes lamb and rice.
This is all for now. I have much more to share, but I feel it needs to be in a different post.