"Looking Back at the Days in Jordan" by Julia Moore
I arrived in Jordan in the middle of the night after having spent the day traveling from rainy and chilly Ireland. Looking out the window of the plane as we approached the gate to disembark, I could already sense the change in the air and the light. Leaving the airport, we boarded a bus that took us on a highway from the outskirts of Amman, past the giant blue box ايكيا (IKEA), roadside coffee shops with neon lights, arriving into a neighborhood where the cafes and the streets were filled with people at 2:00 a.m. This was clearly a sign that the next few months in Jordan would be very different.
One of the many things that struck me was that the region in which Jordan exists is one of the central points where the juxtaposition of the historical, the developing, and the modern intertwine to bolster the many different cultural identities of its inhabitants. In the center of Amman, one can stand atop the hill where the Temple of Hercules rises above the modern skyline and feel the enormity of what has come before while wandering around the giant hand of Hercules. You can then take a short walk down the hill and be in the city markets where one can blend their perfume or eat a snack from one of the many vendors selling tea, coffee, fresh sugar cane juice, shawarma, falafel, and the famous Arab desert kunafeh.
While living in Jordan with a host family, I was able to not only experience aspects of daily life, weddings, birthdays, and family gatherings, but also to visit places I had imagined visiting. The city of Petra put into perspective how significant the area had been in developing trade in the region while standing as a reminder of the impermanent nature of human societies and development. The trip to Petra also included a visit and a stay at Wadi Rum which highlighted not only the beauty of the Southern desert, but also the traditions the Bedouins and the extreme living conditions of living in the desert.
All of this aside, there was an ever-growing sense of modernization in the city of Amman, with festivals like the Baladk Street Art Festival. Baladk Street Art Festival features local and international street artists using vivid imagery and non-traditional methods to express themselves through their cultural identities while finding ways to claim their space within their culture.
All of these experiences were facilitated by the staff at AMIDEAST which enhanced the studying Arabic in Jordan. Being in Jordan gave me the opportunity to be surrounded by the language and use it on a daily basis whether giving directions in a taxi, ordering food or meeting new people. My host mother was always willing to answer my questions and help me to practice Arabic so that I could gain confidence in my understanding of the language. For anyone studying Arabic, I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer or a semester than studying at AMIDEAST, being in Jordan, and discovering everything that the people and the cultures have to offer.