Photography is one of my favorite ways to reflect back on fond memories. Each photo has a unique thumbprint, depending on the location it was taken in, the angles used, the time of day it was taken at, and the chosen subject. They’re not just photos but stories that take us back in time and push us through to the future.
The photos I decided to include in this post are ones that I know I will cherish as being my first memories of Jordan and the people I will be calling my family for the next three months. On day 8, I already have over 300 pictures from this trip, so you can only imagine just how hard it was to decide on only 10! I hope you enjoy these as much as I have, Yallah!
Lunch at AlQuds AlJadeed
After settling into our apartments on the first day of the program, we were split into groups and tasked with completing a scavenger hunt! We had to find and buy things like thermometers, bottles of water, and binders. The purpose was for us to become familiar with our new lives in Swefieh Village. Swefieh is located in the west of Amman and is a pretty upscale neighborhood with lots of options for dining and café studying. This photo is of my group getting غداء (Lunch) at AlQuds AlJadeed, which has a huge menu and even bigger portion sizes. Pictured here are Arthur, Ara, Clara, and Abby. We all got منسف, which is the national dish of Jordan. It consists of rice and meat (lamb or chicken); while eating it, you pour delicious yogurt sauce on top to enjoy! We had a lot of fun walking around the neighborhood and got to know each other a little better in the process!
Walking Around Amman
A few days after getting to Amman, we started our language pledge and began going to classes. The first few weeks of the program are very intensive, and we are currently spending 5 hours a day in classes studying Ammiya, the Jordanian dialect of Arabic. Because we have taken a language pledge, we can only speak English when connecting with our friends and family back home. Having also started internships, it quickly became necessary for us to find coffee shops to study in, which is something Jordan is known for! As some of my friends and I were on the hunt for a new café to study at, I noticed this beautiful flower arch and just had to take a picture! There are so many جميل (beautiful) things in Amman, and among my favorites are the flowers and trees. There are so many different colors of flowers and types of plants here, and I love to play guessing games with myself about what they are! Looking out for the nature around me is a great way for me to decompress from a long day and a long walk back home from studying!
The photo on the right reminds me a little of The Beatles album cover for “Abbey Road.” The only things missing here are the suits and the crosswalk! This photo wasn’t taken long after our stop at the flower arch, and here you can see us walking through a neighborhood in Swefieh, on our way to the Village mall. بالعربية (In Arabic), we talked about how our days went and what we learned in class. Once we got to the café, we ordered our drinks (I, of course, got a milkshake :)) and worked there for a few hours before going home for dinner. That was our first time studying in a café in Jordan; it definitely won’t be the last!
A View from my Apartment
Since I’ve been here for about a week now, I have a pretty set schedule. Every day, I get this view when I walk up and down the stairs to and from my third-floor apartment. On every floor, the staircase opens up to a window, where my street can be seen. The windows are slightly tinted, giving the view a vintage look, or a natural filter, which I think is super cool! I use this road to get to the CET center, Safeway, the market, and most restaurants and cafes. In some ways, it has become home. What I love most about walking this path daily is the dog at the daycare next door. He always greets my friends and me when we pass by, and I’d like to think that maybe he even sees us as his friends!
Souk Jara Marketplace
After a long week, some of my friends and I decided to go downtown to Rainbow Street. First, we stopped at a wonderful restaurant called “Mijana” and then made our way to the Souk Jara, where we looked around at all the art and clothing and even tried some smoothies. We weren’t ready to leave, so we continued to explore the area, where we found a nice bar to hang out at. Going to Rainbow Street on our first weekend after classes was a great way for us to decompress and get to know Jordan a little more before starting classes again on Sunday!
Also taken at the Souk, the photo on the right goes to show just how colorful Rainbow Street is! At night, the colors all around us in the Souk and on the buildings really stand out. Souk Jara is the second Souk I have been to on this trip so far. This one had a lot more handmade goods such as bags, jewelry, and art, while the other Souk possessed more used clothing and items that you would find while thrifting. Thrifting is one of my favorite things to do at home in Michigan, so I’m excited to make trips to the Souks a regular part of my time here!
Over the weekend, الجيران (Our Jordanian neighbors) took our cohort to the Amman Citadel in downtown Amman. We all crammed into several Ubers and spent about 5 hours exploring the ruins and museum, and having dinner and dessert afterward. The Citadel is a ginormous archeological site with so much to see. The surrounding view of the city was just as breathtaking. The Citadel is considered to be one of the worlds’ oldest inhabited places. The Roman Temple of Hercules is the most notable, which is why I included it in this post. Although this is the case, there are many other cool things to see at the site. There is the Gateway to Umayyad Palace, the gateway of the Umayyad Mosque, and collections of sculptures, pottery, jewelry, and tombs in the museum. After walking around the Citadel, we had dinner, and then one of the Jirans, Abdulluh, took some of us to try Kanafeh for the first time. Kanafeh is a traditional dessert with a sweet sauce and cheese drizzled over a pastry, and I highly recommend it!
The photo on the right was also taken at the Amman Citadel, and is of my friend Arthur. I love the symmetry in the photo, with him standing in the middle of the Roman Temple of Hercules. As you can see from the sky, it was a magnificent day to explore the site and downtown Amman. There is so much to see and do downtown, and I am excited to see what my friends and I will do there next!
CET Jordan Students
The fall CET Jordan cohort includes 23 people from all over the U.S. Everyone has varying levels of experience with Arabic, which makes the program that much better because no matter where we stand in our speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills, we can always help each other out. We have grown very close after only being here for a week. I feel like the people I’ve met here will continue to be in my life even after we leave. I’ve loved getting to know everyone and hearing all about their lives. It’s such a supportive group of people, which I find to be extremely important as we are discovering ways to navigate the tough parts of the program together. This picture doesn’t include everyone in the program, but it’s most of us!
Maestro: A Bar Downtown
Last night, after spending the first few days of the week studying, some of my friends and I decided to go to a bar called “Maestro.” We went because they have live music every Tuesday, and we thought it’d be a great way to relax. The bar is downtown, so we hopped in an Uber and made our way there. Most of our time there was spent talking and hanging out, but towards the end of the night, we found out that our friends from the program, Ara and Nick, were going to perform with the band! We stayed a lot longer than planned, but it was so fun to watch our friends on stage doing what they love. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up going there every Tuesday!