Written by Terrez Deaibes, (American University) CET Jordan: Internship, Spring 2017
While many of my peers spent their spring breaks jet-setting to nearby countries; exploring Dubai or riding camels in Cairo, myself and a small group of friends looked to Jordan for a relaxing break from conjugating verbs and memorizing vocabulary. During the weekends I have been lucky to find time to myself to explore the city, finding small coffee stands or sweet shops in the various nooks and crannies, I had never had an extended period of time to do whatever my heart desired at my own pace. The first day of spring break was spent visiting jabal al-qala, a top of one of Amman’s many hills that is the home to a series of Roman ruins. The citadel provides a breathtaking view of the city, showing the layers and layers of buildings that stack upon each other on the precipice of the mountain’s edge. The lone hand of Hercules sitting at the top of the citadel solidifies the antiqueness of the city, all of the history and culture that Amman and Jordan has to offer. Afterwards we trekked down the mountain, walking through the Roman amphitheater and wandering into downtown Amman, wast al-balad. There we made our way through the streets, stopping into various sweet shops and gazing into the storefronts on the “gold street”.
The following day, I paid fifty piastars (roughly 75 cents) for a bus from the University of Jordan to As-Salt, another historic Jordanian city that is only about an hour away from Amman. There are multiple museums in As-Salt’s town center, showcasing their rich cultural history as the original capital of Jordan. While in As-Salt we stumbled upon a beautiful coffee shop surrounded by a garden.
Inside, the owner, a generous and kind woman, took the time to show us all of the traditional embroideries and clothing that she had originally made for her daughter. After that we began our long (and incredibly tiring) hike up one of the mountains, weaving between houses and pushing ourselves up many, many stairs until we reached a beautiful mosque next to a cemetery that dated back to the Ottoman empire.
While part of my spring break was spent lounging on my balcony and being incredibly lazy, I did manage to make it down to Aqaba for the last three days of break. Aqaba is not only incredibly beautiful, but also an amazing intersection of cultures and countries. Located on the Red Sea, Aqaba is close to Israel, the Sinai and Saudi Arabia. With a group of friends, I traveled twenty minutes outside of Aqaba to South Beach, a public beach with crowded with families and friends all trying to soak up some shams. The water in South Beach was some of the clearest I had ever seen, incredibly blue and providing a looking glass to the bottom of the sea floor – pieces of coral and beautiful rocks creating a marbled tile effect.
Finding the time to explore Amman, and its surrounding cities is so crucial to enjoying the CET experience. These bursts of time away from the ordinary routine allow opportunities to test yourself – test your vocab and knowledge of Arabic, to apply all of your classroom learning to real life situations and interactions.