A Series of Interviews with the CET Shabab

Written by Rob Sanford, (American University) Student Correspondent CET Jordan: Intensive Language, Spring 2019.

I’d like to apologize in advance to my loyal fans (Mom, Dad, Dad’s Facebook friends), for surely, each of you await my final blog post with frisson. Unfortunately, this time around, I’ve decided that it will not be me doing the talking, but the charming and illustrious shabab of CET Jordan. I know, I know; it may seem at times that the world needs more  undergrads critiquing renowned scholars, or perhaps another thinly-veiled existential crisis in blog form, but I can assure you it does not. This is it for me as your humble student correspondent. I can’t correspond anymore. I’m all corresponded out.

So, for my last entry, I thought it’d be fun –and less laborious– to ask my classmates to reflect on their semesters in Jordan and offer some insight for incoming students. The following are their unfettered thoughts.

Cartagena has some majestic sights—the plazas by the sea make for some nice evening walks.

What has been the most trying moment you’ve had in Jordan?

I guess coming into Jordan not knowing a lick of Arabic. Couldn’t read any signs, couldn’t know what any passerby was saying. Someone would talk to me in Arabic and I would just say, “I don’t know Arabic.” – Nate

My first trying moment in Jordan was when I went to Carrefour and I realized they didn’t have almond milk, which sounds stupid, but I cried in the supermarket. – Sam

First week, got lost at the University of Jordan surrounded by all the shabab [people] in the world on yom al khamis [Thursday], so it was chaos. It was the eutla [break], kul shos [everyone] all over the place, and I was lost, and my sim card wasn’t working, and I had to ask four women who didn’t speak English if I could connect to their hot spot. Then I called Sam and she rescued me with a TA because we didn’t know Arabic at that point. And someone asked me where I was from and instead of saying alwilayat almutahidat, which is the United States, I said al’umam almutahida, which is the United Nations, so she thought I was very important. – Maria

What has been your favorite moment in Jordan?

Definitely Wadi Rum, looking at the stars at night. – Rolando

It’s not every moment. This week has been really good actually, this final week, just because I came here to improve my Arabic and I feel like I can see that I have done that. In the middle it was hard to tell, but now I’m getting good feedback. – Jordan

Probably when we went to Aqaba because I love the beach, I love sunbathing, and I want to be a sun goddess. – Talia

The long trip. It made me realize that our Arabic may still suck, but we made a lot of really good friends. – Sophia

What has been your favorite meal in Jordan?

*Gasps* maqluba, I love maqluba, it’s so good, so zaki [delicious]. – Rolando

There’s been so many good ones. At Baab al-Yemen, the ful [beans] taste like home even though they’re Yemeni, not Mexican. – Daisy

Any meal at my Jordanian roommate’s house. – Ronnie

I do enjoy mansaf. Well, one time it made me sick, so I don’t know if I can say I enjoy it, but… it’s good. – Sam

Buffalo Wings & Rings. – Emma

What Arabic word or phrase should any incoming student know?

Ma baraf [I don’t know] or lesh la [why not]. That’ll getcha places. – Nate

Andick sigara? [Do you have a cigarette?] – Maria.

Sho [what], wein [where], all of the important questions. Wein beitee [where is my house] is probably important. – Ronnie

You need to know how to tell someone off in the streets. So maybe like yixrib beitak? It means “may god strike down your house.” – Talia

Al-Faisaly fans at a Friday night match in the Amman International Stadium

Generally, what should any incoming student know?

Just be open to any opportunities. Like if your friends want to go somewhere that you don’t want to go, just go because you might learn something or decide you actually like it. – Emma

They should know that this is a very challenging program, but at the end of the day, you get out what you put in. Try your best all the time and don’t forget to sleep. – Rolando

You’re gonna get kicked down, but it’s what happens after that, getting back up, that’s going to matter the most. – Daisy

There’s a lot of basic information; the winter is colder than you think it’s going to be, the clothing is different, but I would say that no matter how much or how little you know, things are going to surprise you, so try to minimize expectations of what you think it’s going to be like. – Jordan

It’s O.K. to cry in public. – Sam

Where is your favorite spot in Amman to cry and why?

I’m a huge fan of crying right outside the benaya [building] because then all your teachers see you, and crying brings you English. They see you crying and you’re allowed to break language pledge, it’s beautiful. – Maria

We all kind of share the same crying spot. It’s this curb outside class where we have a few cigarettes and cry. – Ronnie

The CET break room. You’ll get moral support from your fellow students, and you might even get out of class. – Sophia

I like crying in the comfort of my own home, but there’s this small coffee shop called Salein that… yeah… all my tears. – Rolando

Generally, where is your favorite spot in Amman and why?

Al Balad, the downtown area. It’s really nice, lots of shops with souvenirs, which, you know, stops the crying. And there’s Hashim, that restaurant which is really good. – Rolando

Between here and Salt, there’s a really nice hill that my language partner and I went to that had a really beautiful view and good coffee nearby. – Jordan

Campus is really beautiful, especially right now during the spring. There are lots of flowers. – Ronnie

On weekdays, I love [email protected] because you get a student discount, there’s an amazing view, and their food is really good. On the weekends, Cube, it’s a local spot in Jabal Amman. – Emma

I really enjoy this fun place called Cube. – Maria

(Disclaimer: Cube is actually an astonishingly mediocre night club).

What are your thoughts on CET romance? Haram [prohibited] or mish haram [not prohibited] and why?

Mish haram – I love CET romance. I can’t wait to be invited to a CET wedding in the future. Inshallah [God willing], it’s [names redacted] because they promised me I could be the maid of honor. – Emma

Shway haram mumkin [maybe a little prohibited]? Nah, it’s not haram just keep it in Benaya A before 11pm. – Rolando

It’s kind of like high school, everyone starts dating and it gets a little weird. But don’t worry; by the end of the program, you’re like, “wait, I get to go home now and never see you again. Bye.” – Maria

Mish haram, are you kidding me? What is haram about that in any way, shape, or form? – Nate

Your humble correspondent (chef) and Emma (sous-chef) prepare kbseh, a traditional dish made up of spiced rice and chicken

Who is your favorite person in the whole barnamaj [program]?

*Glances at his numerous admirers, who are eagerly awaiting his response* Seems like a dangerous question. Can I plead the Fifth? I plead the Fifth. – Jordan

Probably all of the returners (those that were here last semester) because I can always go to them for help. – Nate

Probably the guy at the UJ Express coffee stand because he tells me I’m pretty every day and gives me coffee for free instead of for the 50 cents that I probably don’t have. And he helps me with my Arabic. – Maria

Manal. Really nice, really kind, very open. I’m also gonna go with Faith, she’s a great person. – Rolando

Manal. She has come in clutch, she has been there for me both semesters, I could always rely on her. And my Hispanic counterpart Rolando, we just have a mental connection. – Daisy

If [CET Jordan Academic Director] Manal Yousef were an animal, what kind of animal would she be?

Hmm… what’s like a very nurturing animal? Definitely something that flies, watching over us, but not, like, in a vulture-y way. Maybe a dove. She just makes things better. – Sam

An owl. A wise owl looking over everyone. – Nate

A panda. They seem kind of calming. Oh, aren’t they vicious? I guess that still works. And rare, she’s rare. – Sophia

A koala bear because they’re cute and cuddly but also I think they can be kind of feisty? She has helped me solve a lot of my problems because of her feistiness. – Ronnie

She’s a lioness. I’m scared to approach her, but she’s pretty to admire from afar. – Maria

Who would win in an arm wrestle? CET student Jordan or King of Jordan Abdullah II?

I gotta stick with my fellow American and say Jordan would defeat the king. – Nate

Definitely the king. Just because I’m trying to marry his son, so I have to suck up to him. – Ronnie

Definitely the king. I could beat Jordan up. – Sam

Dude, definitely Abdullah. There’s a picture of him without a shirt on the way to Wadi Rum and just… definitely Abdullah. – Jordan