Photos by Rojina Timsina, (Kalamazoo College), Student Correspondent for CET Jordan, Fall 2022
Oftentimes the rigors of CET academics and additional hurdles of living life in a different language makes the option of coming home after class, putting on your favorite American TV show, and indulging in your favorite American snacks very desirable.
As an introvert, there is nothing I look forward to more than a silent empty room and my Netflix to fill that silence. But a part of studying abroad is pushing beyond the comfort zone, right? Altering some habits so you can make the most of this experience while also learning about your own limits and perseverance abilities. As my wise roommate put it, three months really do pass by in a heartbeat, and the worst way to end your study abroad is with regrets about everything you did not do.
The comforting shows can wait, life back home will go on as normal, and the bittersweet feeling you have calling your sister and apologizing for missing her tenth birthday will pass, but regrets will stay for a long time. The experience of learning and living in a different language halfway across the world is scary, but also exhilarating.
So you say to yourself, within these next three months; what are the things that can wait and the things that will weigh you down once this is all over? Experiencing Amman can not wait. The shy attempts at a conversation will never feel the same, even a week from now. Within restaurants, supermarkets, cafes, and Ubers, the small victory of an understanding nod and beaming smiles will be reciprocated by your face and your soul every single time.
Within a week you will begin to realize that those texts back home can wait when you are in the center of Wast Al Balad, surrounded by the aroma of herbs and spices swiftly teasing your sense of smell and your consciousness. You realize that a phone call back home can wait when you find yourself on a rooftop café with a magnificent view of Amman; amidst an intriguing conversation with a friend and delicious food.
Suddenly you are walking down the street in Swefieh on a Thursday night. You no longer feel the need to use google maps because the streets are familiar now. The constant honking of cars no longer pierces through your thoughts and distracts you. You no longer feel anxious sitting outside a café unaware of the proper greeting etiquette for a passers-by.
A week later, you go vegetable shopping for the first time at a local stall. As you walk home with a bag full of vegetables, Swefieh begins to feel more at home. You tell yourself Saturday night is for vegetable shopping. You stop at the bakery on the way; the first time you stumbled onto this bakery it seemed exotic. It was your second day in Amman and frankly, everything seemed exotic; the city, the streets, the buildings. This week the bakery does not seem as scary, you are familiar with the many choices the bakery has to offer. You have yet to learn the names of them all the pastries but you are able to ask for what you want and know what to expect with that first bite. The man behind the sweets counter is now familiar with your yays, nays, and maybe somedays.
The shawarma shop that has become your go-to spot for lunch during your 20-minute breaks between class sessions shares a goofy inside joke with you. The first time you went in, you accidently ordered the wrong item. With a terrified look on your face, you said انا نباتي (I’m Vegetarian). They replaced your chicken shawarma with a falafel sandwich and added in a delicious salad. Now, every time you walk in, they point toward you and say falafel sandwich sa’ah? And you nod in relief.
Every time you put down life back home and live in Amman, you see the city, the people, the culture. It’s the same city, but each day there are new encounters, experiences, and emotions. In a few days, hitting pause on life back home won’t feel difficult; finding your routine here won’t feel scary, finding your comfort here won’t feel wrong, and finding your home here won’t feel like a distant idea to humor.