I’ve eaten more hummus this week alone than in my whole life. From the delicious food to the welcoming people, my semester with CET in Amman has been off to a terrific start.
In the days leading up to my departure for Jordan, I nervously ran through every worst-case scenario I could think of. Would I lose my passport, miss my flight, or forget to pack something important? Would I not get along with my roommates or make any friends, have crippling homesickness, or be unable to communicate in Arabic? Luckily, meeting up with two of my fellow CET Jordan students at the airport alleviated most of my worries. We chatted about our experiences studying Arabic and hopes for Amman as scenic photos of Jordan played on the airplane TV. The hum of Arabic small-talk and Jordanian music as our plane from Chicago to Amman took off was enough to excite me about what lay ahead.
Upon arrival at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport the next day, we were greeted by our jiran—Jordanian neighbors—who took us to the hotel we’d be staying at on the first night. After moving into our apartments the next morning, CET organized a scavenger hunt around Amman’s Sweifieh district to familiarize us with the area. My group excitedly traversed around the bustling neighborhood, taking selfies, chatting with shop owners, and enjoying qahwa (coffee). The highlight of my first real day in Jordan might have been the magnificent sunset that showered the city in golden light. That evening, a group of us spent several hours meeting each other and sharing stories at a local café . The atmosphere, coupled with our nerves, made the day nothing short of exhilarating.
During our first week here, our days have been busy with orientation at CET. Our directors, staff, and teachers have done an amazing job of providing us with everything we could possibly want to know about the place and program, which left me feeling incredibly excited to begin this journey. In the afternoons and evenings, I’ve spent time exploring the local area around Sweifieh.
A group of us went to a lovely dinner at Tal House, a local restaurant with beautiful outdoor seating and delicious small plates. My roommates and I scouted out Sweifieh Village center, a bustling shopping area with a plethora of cafes for chatting or studying. Upon stopping into a bread store nearby, we were offered pastries that we couldn’t refuse and came out with breakfast for a week for less than $5 USD.
After signing the language pledge on our last day of orientation, CET took all the students and staff to a local restaurant called Tawaheen al-Hawa. Eating tasty Jordanian dishes and conversing with my fellow students in Arabic, I couldn’t help but feel immensely grateful for this program. As I sit here writing this blog in a beautiful café that I stumbled across on my walk home from Safeway, I look forward to the memories to come.
My classmates and I enjoy a delicious meal at Tawaheen al-Hawa restaurant