1. Exploring Coffee Shops Near my Apartment
The day after arriving in Amman, I went with some friends to check out the coffee shop a block from our apartment building. All we wanted was a little caffeine to get over our jetlag, but we ended up finding our new favorite study spot! “Caffeina” has sweeping views over the city and delicious coffee, but best of all are the sweet locals who work there. We got to talking with the cashier, telling him about how we’d just moved in next door and were here to study Arabic. He was so excited to talk with us, and he even gave us free haloumi sandwiches! When we went back two days later to study for the placement exams, the same waiter was there and he brought us free sweets. Befriending locals who remember you by name is one of the most rewarding parts of living abroad!
2. Sightseeing Amman
On our first full day, CET split the students up into three groups to visit three different parts of Amman. We visited historical sights, sampled local foods, and just got to know each other a bit better. It was a really fun way to break the ice, while also learning our way around the city!
3. Language Pledge Dinner
In the beginning, I was a bit intimidated by CET’s language pledge. But there are lots of students at all different levels, and everyone is very supportive of each other! After we signed the language pledge, we went to a fancy traditional restaurant to celebrate – speaking only in Arabic, of course! It was much easier than I expected, and a lot of fun. Plus, the food was delicious!
4. Souk Jum’ah & Souk Jara
My first weekend in Amman, my friends and I visited a few different souks (markets) around the city. One of my favorites was Souk Jum’ah, the Friday Market, where you can pick up cool, used clothing for just a dollar or two! This is a great place to buy any clothes you might have forgotten to bring. I also loved Souk Jara, which is a bit like a farmer’s market with local homemade foods, arts and crafts. We met a man named Omar selling pottery, and his son studies at the University of Jordan – the same campus where our classes are held! He was very excited to learn that we are studying here all semester, and he invited us to his pottery studio to try making our own souvenirs!
5. Cooking Class
During our first week, we spent ten minutes of each class learning about different traditional Jordanian dishes. The next weekend, the students from my class got together in one of our apartments to try our hand at cooking! We made fasoulia bil zait and alaya al-bandura, and then we all ate dinner together. It was a great bonding experience, and it has inspired me to try cooking more Jordanian dishes in my own apartment!