Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday in the United States, so it was imperative that I celebrate the holiday while here in Jordan. A bunch of the CET students and our roommates got together, made all the traditional Thanksgiving food, and spent some quality time together before we started drowning in final projects.
As we sat around the table, we all mentioned one thing for which we were grateful. Surrounded by new, but close friends and great food, I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging in a land I had only been in for a short time. The thing I was grateful for then, and still am now, is the opportunity to travel to a different country and come out on the other side with a new home.
I have less than two weeks left in Jordan, and with any significant life change comes a period of reflection. Making a home abroad is not an easy process, and it’s not just getting to know the people in your program. I am about to leave this truly magical city that once felt foreign, but is now a place I live and feel comfortable.
Home is familiar faces.
As much as I try to branch out and have as many new experiences as possible, when you live somewhere, you are obviously going to have the places you frequent. I like hanging out around Amman and seeing the same faces on a regular basis. The barista at my favorite coffee shop, the owner of the closest supermarket, and the cashier at the restaurant near the university are all people integrated into my routine. They know me, we make small talk, and when I leave my converter in the café, they give it to me the next time I’m there without me having to ask for it. My life in Jordan would be incomplete without them.
Home is delicious food.
It is no secret that I have eaten my body weight in falafel this semester, but I have also learned how to make some كتير زاكي (super delicious) Jordanian food. Food in general is one of my favorite things about Jordan: it is cheap to make and cheap to buy, the produce changes with the seasons and is better than anything in the U.S., and it is a chance to get to know people and the culture more. The difference between our first cooking lesson, when we barely knew each other and didn’t know the cooking words, and our last cooking lesson, when we sang along to Arabic music and shouted the recipe in Arabic, really shows how food has added to our experience here in Jordan.
Home is your favorite places.
I’m going to try and not mention food for this one, but a lot of my favorite places in Jordan have food. Of course, I am going to miss my apartment and all the places I frequent, but I am also going to miss the little places that make Amman for me, like the random street corners with insanely gorgeous views of the city. I’ll miss the artsy stairwell on the way to the downtown area with super cheap earrings for sale and the tree lined streets of the University of Jordan, as well as, all the places in Amman that make me smile.
Home is where the heart is.
It is hard to call a place home when I really haven’t lived here that long. I don’t have the experiences of people who live here permanently, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling like this is a place I belong. Home is knowing exactly where to get presents for friends and family in America because I know what makes the city special. Home is crying to my roommate because life abroad is hard. Home is cleaning the apartment in a panic before my friends come over to celebrate literally any occasion. Home is the cashier giving me a discount on my coffee grinds because I buy them every other week. Home is as simple as a nice walk home after my last class on a Thursday, or as random as bowling a strike on an outing with my language-partner-turned-great-friend. Home is everything I am taking with me from Jordan and everything that makes Amman hard to leave.