Ahlan wa Sahlan!
We’ve been pretty focused on our Arabic studies here lately. It’s crazy but we just had our MIDTERM! I can’t believe my time here is ending so soon. However, my Arabic has improved dramatically since I have been here, especially my dialect vocabulary. In class we have learned so many new words including the most useful ones, for food! Sometimes Arabic class makes me feel like I’m back in kindergarten with lots of games, chants, songs etc. But somehow it has been effective and I can now confidently take a taxi around Amman and stumble through a conversation!
Unfortunately, my host family speaks absolutely mumtastic English and doesn’t speak to me or my roommate in Arabic very often. However, by listening to their conversations and putting my limited vocabulary in context I try to follow the conversation. I’m also trying really hard to say everything I can in Arabic. The best way to learn a language is definitely to practice it and be surrounded by it. I love listening to the radio in the taxis and picking up words here and there or trying to read signs in Arabic and figure out what certain stores are. I can’t wait to be back here to continue to practice my language and I can’t wait to be fluent! Most people I encounter that find out we’re studying Arabic are quite impressed because they acknowledge just how difficult of a language it is to learn!
Sicknesses have been spreading throughout our group too with many people having trouble adjusting to the food and water here. We were warned not to eat the fresh fruits and vegetables unless they have been peeled and DEFINITELY not to drink the tap water. However, I couldn’t stay away from all of the cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers that make Jordanian cuisine so delicious! I was lucky and only have had a little bit of tummy trouble but some of the people on our trip have had to miss class, miss our midterm or go to the hospital! It’s really important to stay hydrated here and chug water like no body’s business. Thankfully, 1.5 liter bottles of water are really cheap here, only .40 JD and my host house has a filter machine so I can be environmentally friendly and just refill my own bottles!
My cultural excursion for the week was the most relaxing and refreshing experience! After our midterm, a group of girls (Kaitlin- my roommate, Maya, Allegra, Alex and Emily) went to Al-Pasha, the Turkish baths here in Amman. We decided to treat ourselves with a little spa time after studying so hard! We arrived at the hammam and were immediately ushered into the changing rooms and then into the baths themselves. We were given fresh berry smoothies and shuttled into a pitch black and stifling hot sauna room that smelled profusely of lemon and mint. Because I’m a giant, I stepped in and was nearly suffocated by the intense heat and condensation. but the benches that lay low to the ground allowed us to sweat and purify our skin. We all emerged with black makeup streaks down our faces but felt refreshed! While we waited for our scrub we sat around the jacuzzi and even danced with the ladies who run the show! The music in the hammam contrasted very differently with American spa music and before we knew it we were all standing on the Jacuzzi belly dancing to Arabic pop music with half-naked masseuses. Being in a women only zone was refreshing and liberating and for the first time in basically ever, we all felt completely comfortable with our bodies.
For 4 JD extra I bought a scrub down which literally removed every dead skin cell that could be found on my body. Lying on cold marble I was scrubbed to death and doused in cold water. But after, my skin felt extremely soft and I was beyond ready for my massage.
I have been enjoying the nightlife here in Amman. Everyone who is on this trip is extremely friendly and we all hang out together quite often. Thursday nights here are like American Friday nights and the entire city is buzzing with people hopping from sheesha bar to regular bars to cafes. However, going out is getting expensive here because, much to my dismay, prices are quite equivalent to European prices for drinks and food.
But I’m learning to enjoy the simple things about being in Amman. As I am writing this the call to prayer is echoing across the entire city, moving from mosque to mosque and bringing the whole city together. It is quite possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever heard.
With love from Amman