Written by Caitlyn Aldersea, (University of Denver), Student Correspondent for CET Jordan, Fall 2021
If I could give prospective students one piece of advice in preparing for Jordan, it would be that transportation is nothing like the United States. Amman is a much bigger city than many people think, and that means getting around from place to place requires a good amount of preparation. Coming from Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado, I am used to my (extremely) discounted public transportation options such as buses, trains, streetcars, you name it. In Amman, however, I would urge even the environmentally-conscious to stick to the basics – Ubers or Careem.
The first Uber driver I had told me sunset is Amman is unbeatable. He was certainly right!
Case and point: one of our Uber rides to Rainbow Street. As three of my friends and I packed into the car on a busy Friday night, our driver immediately began asking us where we were from, what we were studying, why we wanted to study Arabic, and how Amman was treating us thus far. One of my friends started joking around with him about the Jerash Jordanian accent which uses more of a “sch/g” rather than “k” sound. The driver was entertained, to say the least, and complimented our friend on his immersion into Jordanian culture. While our Arabic was rough, it was enough to make a genuine connection with this man. In a mix of English, Arabic, and nonverbal communication, we all laughed and joked and exchanged comments on Friday night vibes in Amman. By the time we got out of the Uber, the man wished us the best of luck and even offered to tutor us if we required any assistance.
One of my Uber drivers kept making fun of me for how I say the name of
this café but now I’ll never forget it.
Now, this is not to paint an unrealistic picture of Amman. Sure, there are taxi drivers who may incessantly honk at you to see if you want a ride. Yes, some car rides will be completely silent just like in the United States. It is possible you will have a frustrating interaction with a taxi driver over the best (and cheapest) way to a certain location. And of course, you may not be friends with every Uber driver you meet. But like in any cultural immersion environment, there will also always be entertaining moments to practice speaking with individuals you may never have the chance to talk with again.
Another Uber driver gave me a list of his favorite art spots in Weibdeh
This is why public transportation in Amman is so entertaining. You get a small taste of interaction with everyday Jordanians; people outside CET who are not your teachers, language partner, roommates, or occasional friends that you meet through activities. They will speak Arabic and they will speak it fast, but they will interact in the most comedic, authentic, and caring ways possible. So, be prepared for a slight culture shock when you get to Amman but it is possibly the best culture shock you could have.