"Reflections on My Time in Amman," by Lindsey McGuire
It doesn’t seem real that as I am writing this, I will be back in America in just three days. I’m excited to see my dog and cats, eat some In-N-Out fries, and sleep in my queen-sized bed. But I’m also sad to be leaving a place where I’ve made so many memories and friends. Jordan, and Amman in particular, have surprised me in many ways. Amman reminds me so much of my own desert home, Las Vegas, yet it is also unlike anywhere I have ever been.
Studying in Amman has given me so many opportunities to travel. I’ve been all around Jordan, visiting cities like As-Salt, Umm Qais, and Al-Karak. I’ve seen world-famous sites like Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea, and Jerash, and I’ve had the opportunity to travel outside of Jordan to Casablanca and Jerusalem. I’ll never forget my visit to the baptism site of Jesus on the Jordan River, where you can physically see the border between Jordan and Israel. The Israeli half of the river was crowded with pilgrims getting baptized, barely a stone’s throw away from the Jordan side, yet solidly separated by the border.
My four months in Amman were definitely enhanced by enrolling in the Community-Based Learning in the MENA Region (CBL) class offered by AMIDEAST. We learned about how Jordan has developed and we discussed things like Amman’s new downtown project in Al-Abdali. For the internship component of the CBL class, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR). I learned so much about the archaeology and history of Jordan and also gained experience in my field of study that I’ll take back with me to my home institution.
Some of my favorite memories from my study abroad experience are of celebrating holidays. At the very beginning of the semester, our Arabic teachers brought in traditional sweets to celebrate the Islamic New Year. This was an extremely delicious way to kick-off the semester. For Halloween, our teachers planned an activity with lots of candy and spooky music. We snacked on these treats while expanding our Arabic vocabulary.
Thanksgiving could have been a hard holiday to be away from home, but instead we spent it planning a massive potluck with traditional foods like a turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Certain ingredients like cranberries may have been more expensive in Amman than back home, but for the most part we were easily able to prepare a traditional American feast. As the seasons shifted to winter and we neared the end of our semester, I was definitely surprised when stores began playing familiar Christmas carols and stocking things like advent calendars and candy canes. Amman’s Boulevard in the Abdali area held a massive Christmas celebration, with lights, faux snow, and of course, Santa.
Amman’s Christmas celebrations have made me excited to head home and celebrate the holiday season in Las Vegas with my family. However, I’m sad to be leaving this amazing city which I’ve called home for four months. I’ll miss exploring the old downtown, Wast Al-Balad, where I’ve bought everything from perfumed oils, Disney movies dubbed in Arabic, and fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ll miss practicing my Arabic with patient waiters and drinking bright green lemon and mint juice. I’ll miss my incredible professors and the people I’ve met. I’m saying ma'a salama to Amman, but just for now. I’ll be back, inshallah.