“Yalla Bye”

Written by Madison Mauro, (American University) Student Correspondent CET Jordan: Intensive Language, Fall 2018

There’s a common saying in Jordan among friends: “يلا bye” (“Yalla Bye”). It’s not an easily translatable phrase. “يلا” means almost everything and nothing. It’s something that teeters on the rude and funny in the way that only direct phrases can.

I would say it every time my teacher Tasneem would leave during class breaks—she would laugh and stomp her foot with a “يلا bye” in response, the tail of her dress wrapping around the door the last thing I would see as she slipped out of class.

As I slip out of Jordan on a plane headed home, a little sad and convinced the program isn’t over, “يلا bye” rattles around in my head, bouncing against fond memories and experiences:

How at 7:00 or 8:00 AM the national anthem would float into my apartment, banging against closed eyes, and my roommate would exhale a heavy sigh as the song marked the start of another day.

How after class I would wander to the Yemeni restaurant near our building and speak with the owner, who would ask me how my day was in twenty different ways that only Arabic could afford.

How the sound of honking horns in the street echoed against dancing bodies as the building across from us teemed with Jordanians celebrating a marriage.

I remember Jordan and, most of all, I remember the people and their kindness, their character, and their humor—because even when taxi drivers made fun of you, you simply didn’t care because the way that their laughter rumbled in their stomachs and against cigarette stained seats made you laugh along with them.

I have no doubt I’ll always remember the place that is Jordan. And so, as I sit on a plane headed for another place, I’m saying “يلا bye” to Jordan but hopefully not for long.