Wednesday, September 28, 2011

views from my apartment

Marhaba friends! I'm writing to you from my apartment in Jebel Hussein, a residential neighborhood about 15 minutes away from Qasid, my language institute. The area's nice. I pass by schoolkids and commuters every morning on my walk to Qasid, and sometimes see boys playing soccer in the afternoon. From what I gather, the area's largely Palestinian. Most of the street names correspond with actual cities west of the Jordan river. (I live near Hayfa Street.) Below is a short tour of my apartment. Enjoy!

(try the link if the video doesn't work)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

staying up late and skanky clothes.

Perhaps god did take offense to my corny joke, because I wasn't able to use my computer for a day! (I left my electricity converter at home...)

I spent my first two nights with Manar, a friend and former Fulbright Arabic TA at UCDavis. Manar, along with her friends and family, helped me enormously with all of my living logistics: apartment hunting, internet purchasing, food shopping, and basic navigation around Amman. I really can't thank them enough.

Aside from giving me a place to sleep, living with Manar's family helped me acclimate to the rhythms of life in Jordan. It's different here. At home, my dad goes to sleep by 9pm. Manar's dad stayed up with me until 1am. Here, we watched the news together on TV; at home, my family spreads the New York Times all over the house. At Manar's it's ok to leave cleaned dishes on a drying rack-- at home, not so much (hi mom!). Small differences, sometimes a little better, sometimes a little worse, sometimes completely neutral, but always a learning experience.

In many ways, I'm returning to a familiar place. The piece of Amman I inhabit now overlaps quite a bit with the Amman I knew two years ago. I'm staying in Jebel Hussein, and studying at Qasid--just down the road from my old dorm and former Arabic center. I'm grateful that I know how to take a cab (make sure the cabbie starts the meter!), how to ask how much bread costs ("addeish?"), and how to dress. More or less. Though let me pause for a moment. I'm convinced that Jordanians are dressing skankier than they were two years ago. (And, obviously, I'm an expert on Jordanian clothes, so you should take everything I say very seriously.)

When packing for Jordan, I was careful to bring clothes which would completely cover my legs. I tried to pack shirts which were long enough to cover the back pockets of my jeans, and whose sleeves reached my elbows. And, I swear, I didn't think I was packing like a Puritan; this is what I saw my Jordanian friends wear in August '09!

As an American, and particularly as a young American female, I remembered getting a lot of unsolicited attention in Jordan. This time around, I'm trying to dress more like Jordanian women to minimize the amount I stand out. I aim to dress at maybe the 25th percentile of Jordanian modesty. No head covering or anything, but I want to be as conservative as at least a quarter of the women I saw. Mission accomplished: I saw a girl wearing capris yesterday.
scale of (adult, female) modesty on the streets of Amman

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I'm here!

Within 1.5 days, I managed to reconnect with a good friend from Davis (hi Manar!), find an apartment (or, rather, have friends find an apartment for me), attend a birthday party, drink several cups of tea, bomb a diagnostic exam (3hr tests and jetlag don't mix), and explore pieces of Amman which I missed the first time around. Aside from the diagnostic exam, I couldn't ask for a warmer welcome to Amman. I need to sleep, but I'll update shortly with stories and pictures of my surroundings inshallah (literally "if god wills it"--but really, I will... no pun intended, god).