As I am writing this, we are officially left with two weeks in Jordan. With each passing day, the days of OPIs, final papers, apartment inspections, and goodbyes are around the corner, waiting impatiently.
While I get ready to say my goodbyes to Jordan, its beauty and rich culture, I am nudged by these waves of memories and experiences that I won’t be leaving behind. These waves bring comfort and closure to the bittersweet feeling. It’s a reminder that I will be taking more from Jordan than what I came in with.
1. Higher Quality Arabic
For me, higher-quality Arabic ability tops the list. The initial purpose of CET Jordan is to provide intensive language learning, so it is no surprise that I am leaving with better Arabic. However, there is more to this experience than strictly improved grammar and vocabulary.
My perfectly constructed sentences were tangled within multiple office hours with my professors. For every word I understood and comprehended, there were ten that went right over my head. For every concept I could not grasp during the second week, I could piece together the fourth week. Every time I understood my language partner, I had no idea what her sister was saying. I would never verbalize the perfectly constructed sentences in my head. I think it’s this frustration and self-awareness that the program orchestras for its student, which adds value to Arabic learning during the program and beyond.
Arab media discussion board
2. A Better Palate
Here we go, a list of foods I have learned to prepare during my time in Jordan; Fattoush, galayet bandora, bamia bil zeit, dawali, kousa mahshi. A list of foods that I will dearly miss from Jordan; Hummus and falafel from Hashems, knafeh from Habibas, falafel sandwiches on every street corner, freshly squeezed mango juice, baklava from Al Sufara Bakery, and manakish from around the corner.
As a vegetarian, these foods appeal most to me, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The rich flavors, joined by affordable prices, makes Jordan an irresistible destination when it comes to food. Granted, I will not be able to replicate this authentic food experience fully. I will be leaving with a familiar taste and memories associated with these foods.
3. A Second Home and Community
This idea sparked from a conversation I had with my language partner, a couple of weeks ago, when she invited me to her graduation party during the summer. During a recent dinner with my language partner Dania and her family, among many blurry emotions and conversations, the conclusion was clear, Jordan had become a home away from home. I was encouraged to stay in touch with Dania’s mother, who loved Indian soap operas just as much as I did. I was encouraged to visit if I found myself in Jordan again. I was embraced with homemade food and warm emotions. I know my way around Swifeh, Wast Al Balad, the haggles in the streets, and the employees of my favorite restaurants and cafes.
Returning to Jordan will be a familiar feeling in the future. I won’t feel like a tourist hunched down looking through Google Maps or Tripadvisor. CET staff and their resources guided me to familiarity. They have created a place that I can return to in the future, years after the program, and have people and places that I am excited to see.
A day at the stable with Dania and her family
A wonderful lunch at Dania’s
4. A Fresh Perspective
During one of our very first orientations, we were told that up until now, everything we knew about the Arab world had been from a Western institute, Western media outlet, or a Western point of view. We were now in an Arab world, being educated by Arab teachers and living amongst Arab perspectives. With my two content classes, this factor played an important role in helping me see both sides of the conflict while assessing sources and media more critically. I got a fresh perspective on Amman, its people, Islam, and other factors influencing Jordanian society. Our education plays a huge role in shaping our perspectives, and our educators play a role in shaping our education. And it is not just in the classrooms; It is a fresh perspective on culture, religion, family, and life that I will be fortunate enough to take with me.
Last stop of our Underground Amman tour
5. Having seen a Wonder of the World
Part of the CET bundle involves a trip to Wadi Rum and Petra. Petra and Wadi Rum are two highlights of a trip to Jordan and my memories of Jordan. I will take with me the memories of driving through Wadi Rum, climbing the sand dune, the breathtaking view out miles and miles of empty desert from the top, the unreal sunset, the brisk cold wind that accompanied the night, the thunder, the rain, the chaos we all enjoyed that evening. Many years from now, I will still be talking about spending the evening with Bedouins and the CET students, my trip to Petra, and the first glimpse of Petra. For me, these are moments that can neither be reproduced nor forgotten.
A glimpse of Petra