The biggest challenges I’ve faced in my past 5 days of being in Amman are staying warm and cooking.
I think when I decided to come do an internship in the desert I was under the impression that it would be above freezing, at least. However I didn’t realise that the apartment I’m living in was made for summer weather: marble floors and sandstone walls. I’m sure they keep the place mighty cool in the summer but for now it’s a little bit less than ideal. Lucky for me, our heater doesn’t work! Ellie and I have been making do with our lil space heater and it’s getting the job done for now. Apparently this entire region was in a polar vortex for the past week which explains why it’s been unseasonably cold and why I’ve been sleeping with a sweater, scarf, hat, and two layers of socks — all underneath my two comforters.
If that doesn’t shed light on how cold it is here, the other day a friend of mine ate dinner while wearing gloves.
Last night I decided I was finally gonna cook some of the groceries I had bought. I set up all my ingredients, chopped some stuff up, decided on my seasonings, threw everything into the pot and went to turn on the stove. It had zero idea that it was going to be a gas stove. Not even like an automatic gas stove, I mean like the kind where you get your matches and have to time the gas just right. I’ve never been more grateful for living that #ElectricStove life until that moment. Thankfully Mohammed was already in my apartment working on my heater and he told me that I needed to actually .. turn on the gas in the nearby cabinet. WHOOPS. I felt p r e t t y dumb but it’s all part of the learning experience.
I haven’t started taking my Arabic class yet nor has starting information from my internship come in so I’ve just kind of been hanging out enjoying the snow days. Can’t say I hate it.
How Not To Be An Idiot In Amman:
- Wear as many layers as humanly possible, even if that exceeds what’s socially acceptable.
- Turn on the gas before you try and use a gas stove.
So we’re on a red-eye bus to New York. It’s 4 AM we’ve been on the road for 3 hours, everyone’s asleep at this point. I’m.. a college kid so I’ve learned to survive on 30 minutes a week so I’m just sitting on the bus THRIVING.
Anyway my sister decides to stir in her sleep and I’m like “OK the ride is getting a lil bumpy now anyway, I feel her,” so I’m not paying attention. But out of nowhere she decides that 4 in the morning on a d e a d s i l e n t bus is the perfect time to go fishing for dreg fries at the bottom of her McDonald’s bag.
So it’s straight up like, CRINKLE CRINKLE CRINKLE CRINKLE for like an entire minute and a half. And we’re in the middle of the bus so we’re battling perfect acoustics and equal reach to every single individual, it was awful.
And my sister straight up didn’t see what was wrong!! I’m glaring at her (mainly for my sake… I needed the people around us to know I had nothing to do with this) but to no avail. CRINKLE CRINKLE CRINKLE.
The one saving grace was that she couldn’t find any more fries so she gave up her quest and the bus ride remained peaceful for the final 45 minutes.
Until we rear-ended a cop, but that’s another story.
I started up on anti-biotics the other day and realised that my final dose will be on Thursday evening just as I’m checking into Logan Airport. Talk about tangibility.
I was getting my typhoid shot on that same day and the nurse asked me where I was going. When I told her, “Jordan,” and explained what I was going to be doing there, she called me brave. (If you’re laughing at that concept, that’s fine because I was too.) I don’t feel brave at all. I’m going to Jordan because I want to get better at Arabic, and what better way to do that than to go to the source. I’m going to Jordan because I want international work/internship experience. But that’s not to say I’m not absolutely tweaking out at the prospect of having to communicate entirely in Shaami for 4 months. There is a very huge part of me that genuinely doesn’t want to go. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t looking up Turkish Airlines’ refund policy the other night. Nothing in that screams bravery to me.
People say being brave is being afraid–but doing it anyway. Of course I’m going to do it anyway. I can’t not go: I would be letting down far too many people, myself included. But I don’t think that’s being brave I think that’s being obligated.
I’m excited, I promise. I’ve been very cool, calm, and collected up until this point and now everything is just happening and I can’t rationalise as quickly as I can feel so that’s where we’re at.
Logistic updates: I still haven’t packed or figured out how to get from the airport to the apartment or even looked up the USD/JOD exchange rate. I’m doing great, y’all.
I’m going to Jordan in 10 days. This is still such a wild concept. It’s something I’ve been thinking about and planning on and off since last June. Even as I sit here with my plane ticket in my hand, my Jordanian cellphone number memorised, and an equal mix of nervousness and excitement: it still doesn’t feel real.
Everything has essentially fallen into place. All that is left to do is pack. But I still feel so distanced from it all that I can’t bring myself to. Maybe it’s the lack of ultimate panic: I’ve never been the type to pack for anything longer than 24 hours out. In 9.5 days from now expect another post that will most likely be titled, “WHY DIDN’T I START PACKING EARLIER?” or “WILL I EVER LEARN?”
Overall, I’ve realised that I don’t like not knowing what to expect. The ability to be able to carefully prepare every single event and interaction has proven helpful to me for the past 21 years so this upcoming experience will take a lot of letting go and allowing whatever may happen to happen. Just like Charlotte mentioned, there are a lot of things about the next few months that I have no idea about. I’m a wealth of Jordanian/Amman-related trivia that probably won’t help me while I’m in-country but might prove useful if I ever happen to be on an episode of Jeopardy on juuuust the right night.
I’ve pestered everyone I know who has ever been to Jordan or spent a considerable amount of time in the Middle East and I always received the same warnings of “relax, you’ll be fine” and “my experience may not line up with yours.” Which I know to be true but have yet to internalise it. Relaxing is just the first step out my comfort zone that I’m going to have to take and definitely not my last.