The sudden outbreak of COVID halted my four years of high school in Jordan in December 2020. The desire to advance my Arabic language skills and reconnect with the local culture brought me back to Jordan this summer. It is definitely a strange feeling having to re-navigate Amman as an adult as opposed to being my 14-year-old self. This picture is composed of a familiar view: a proud Jordanian flag, a mosque, fields of nothing, and a few residential buildings scattered around.
Re-navigating Amman as an adult means that I have to find my own ways to transit to places– whether it is buses, taxis, Uber/Careem, or just walking. Amman is unfortunately not the most pedestrian-friendly city, but being located in Sweifieh, the CET center and our apartments are close to many essential services like supermarkets, cafes, bakeries, etc. Uber is significantly cheaper than what we are used to in the States, which makes our lives so much easier.
During the weekends, a few of us decided to explore downtown Amman after Friday Prayers. We first went to the Friday Market, where you can find many cheap and second-hand items. This was a place that I had never been to as a high school student, so a huge part of re-navigating Amman as an adult includes going to places that are unfamiliar to me. I especially enjoyed walking through the crowds of people and clothes while hearing the rises and falls of the merchants’ calls to attract business.
After the Friday Market, we just walked around freely. It is impossible to capture the Jordanian cityscape without including the layers of houses. As you walk (more like climb) up and down in downtown Amman, feel free to stop to take a breather and appreciate the view. It is also a perfect chance to people-watch!
After the short walk around the city, some students decided to meet up in a café (Manara Café) to study. The rest of us also stopped at this café to grab a drink and look at more houses from their balcony. This had felt like a full circle moment, where just a few years ago, I was standing at the same balcony shortly after Manara opened up.
CET Jordan Summer’23 at Citadel! In CET Jordan, there are jirans (Jordanian neighbors) who will organize activities for us every week. Everyone was excited to see the entire Amman from the high viewpoint of the Citadel. This was a great way to explore classic Jordan tourist attractions with local Jordanians!
We were at Citadel at the most perfect time of the day– the late afternoon. The sun wasn’t too intense and there were nice breezes of wind. After we got on the top and finished walking around, we all found our tiny spot to sit and relax.
One of the jirans, Mohammed, took a selfie with us at the bottom of the citadels. They always have the biggest smiles and are very open to both teaching us about Jordan and learning more about us and our cultures. Mohammed was constantly joking with us and looking out for us.
When I tell you that you won’t need a Stairmaster workout in Amman, I am not joking. This is one of the many, and even slightly fewer steps you will find in Amman. I particularly liked this one as it leads into a mysterious door and I wouldn’t know what’s behind it. It is also like our summer in CET Jordan, not knowing where this journey will take us.
Even more, re-navigating Amman also means going to my old stomping grounds with newly-made friends. This Chinese market was one of my favorite places when I was in high school as I was able to buy Chinese products and feel closer to home. Their products fostered my love for cooking, especially in a completely foreign environment. However, it was also my first time visiting this new market storefront. It grew much bigger during the three years I was gone, and I am so glad I get to share this excitement with friends from CET.