A Day in the Life in Amman

Written by Cecilia Beard, (UNC Chapel Hill) Student Correspondent CET Jordan: Intensive Language, Spring 2019

5:00AM – Wake up. (Yeah, it’s a little wild, but I like the mornings a lot and it’s when I’m most productive.)

5:30AM – Make breakfast. I typically eat some eggs with avocado or oatmeal with apples. Nothing fancy, but I always drink coffee.

6:30AM – Go to the local gym nearby. In between breakfast and this, I’m either studying all the new vocabulary from the previous days in class OR reading the NYT.

7:45AM – Back from the gym. Study a bit more. Leave for class around 8:00AM

A daily routine is adding new words learned from class each day to a Quizlet

8:20AM – In my class building, waiting for class to start. If I feel like being especially kind to myself that morning, I’ll trek across campus to a nearby coffee shop. Instant coffee is much more common here than the drip coffee I’m used to, so it’s nice every once in a while to drink real coffee. I also bring almond milk everywhere I go because that’s not a common beverage here. Check the Miles at the bottom of Mecca Mall to find some.

9:00AM – The beginning of three hours of language class. Currently, we’re focusing on the Shaami dialect, something most commonly spoken in everyday conversation in Jordan. It’s also spoken in other Levantine countries, but each have their slight nuances. Before coming, I knew a bit of Shaami as my professor back home studied Arabic himself in Syria. We also study Modern Standard Arabic, the Arabic most commonly used in literature, in more formal settings, and in university. It’s used in other situations too, but those are the first ones to come to mind.

12:00PM – Transition from language class to content courses! My hour-and-a-half break is a time for any questions I may have for my content course professor. As discussion is a major aspect of our class, making sure you understood the material is crucial.

1:30PM: Content courses. This semester, I’m enrolled in two courses: one, Manifestations of Bigotry in Arabic Literature and Arabic Culture, and two, Modern History of Conflict in the Middle East: Influences on the Arab Spring. Until 3:00PM, I’ll be discussing articles, watching related videos, and asking a ton of questions.

3:00PM: My brain probably hurts a lot at this point. Consistently thinking in, speaking, writing, and reading in Arabic is a lot on your head. Most of my friends here head to a coffee place at this point to start on homework, but I don’t function well if I just jump directly from class to homework. I can’t focus. Instead, I take around an hour to essentially let my mind rest, then I go meet up with people. That one hour is crucial for my own productivity.

Studying in a favorite cafe close to campus called Salein

4:00PM – Go to a coffee shop. Mostly just try to retain all the new words we’ve been given that day and start on the next day’s readings. There’s a coffee place really close to all our apartments that most students frequent. On the weekends though, there are a few great places to go to on Rainbow Street for studying/writing/reading (post soon to come).

6:30PM – Head back to my apartment. Cook dinner. Talk to my Jordanian roommate about her day. She’s also bound by the language pledge, so we also speak Arabic to one another. I find she’s helpful with correcting my speech (the American accent has got to GO) and telling me the vocabulary people our age use. You can’t be running around using the Arabic equivalent to “neat-o” or “all that and a bag of chips.”

8:00PM – Catch up with people back home.

10:00PM – Hopefully I’m asleep at this point. However, 11:00 seems more truthful. I’m writing 10:00PM into existence though.