Sunday, June 4th:
My flight lands in Amman. After a long 15 hours of traveling, I am excited to finally reach my final destination. Normally, the neighbors (جيران) would be at the airport waiting to greet me – however, since my flight came in so early, there was nobody to greet me. Instead, one of my new classmates and friends was there to greet me– her flight had arrived just a couple of hours earlier, at 2:00 am. Both unsure of how to navigate this new unknown city and country, we had made plans to meet up and take a taxi together to the hotel.
After a 30-minute taxi ride, we finally arrived at Geneva Hotel. Here, we will stay the first night before meeting everyone in the program the next day and taking buses to our apartments. Since it was too early to check in, we got to know each other better and, after sunrise, decided to walk around the city and explore a little.
A street close to the hotel
We returned to the hotel after grabbing smoothies for breakfast and explored the surrounding area. When we returned, we met two other students also waiting for check-in. While waiting, we chatted about our hobbies, interest in Arabic, and what we’re most excited about while studying in Jordan. A couple more students filtered in as we waited.
It was finally time to check in. Along with our room keys, the receptionist gives us a welcome packet from CET containing instructions on the next day, a SIM card, and a reimbursement for the visa. Before we got to our rooms, we planed to meet again soon to find somewhere for lunch and explore the area a little.
We met up again in the lobby to go out and explore the city. First, we returned to the same smoothie shop as in the morning (what can I say, the other people wanted smoothies too). After smoothies, we found a nice local restaurant to stop in.
We were instantly met with something new– instead of giving us menus and asking us what we wanted, they gave us a ticket with the names of the items and a pen to mark how many we wanted. There were seven of us, and five wanted falafel– so we put a five next to falafel! Funny enough, however, that didn’t mean five falafel sandwiches. Instead, it meant five individual pieces of falafel. Somewhat embarrassed, we didn’t want to ask for more falafel, so we just split it amongst ourselves. What a good welcoming to Jordan! We returned to the hotel, and I showered and took a nap; I was super tired after such a long day of traveling.
Me and my new friends on a pedestrian bridge above the street
After waking up from my nap, I head downstairs to dinner at the hotel. There, I met the neighbors and more students also participating in CET. We all enjoyed a big meal and talked for hours before heading to bed.
Monday, June 5th:
Up bright and early, I got ready for the day, repacked my luggage, and went to the receptionist to check out and eat breakfast. At breakfast, I introduced myself to people I hadn’t met the day before. Before long, Ahmed, the Resident Director, came to the hotel to give us some instructions before traveling to our final destination. After a quick debriefing, we all packed into two buses and headed to our apartments.
We arrived at our apartment building. Our bus let the guys off first since we were all packed in the front. The group is separated into two different buildings, with guys living in one and girls in the other. In my apartment, we have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a small living room. Thankfully, my flatmate and I got our own rooms and bathrooms– very convenient! We unpack and settle in before our next group activity.
As part of our orientation, we split into several groups to explore the city through a scavenger hunt. As part of the scavenger hunt, each group is given 40 dinars and is tasked to buy several things from various stores– such as a bottle of water from a grocery store, hand sanitizer from a pharmacy, and even lunch from a restaurant!
After the scavenger hunt, we headed to the CET center to complete our first orientation session on the CET community. We are briefed on what the community means and how to make the most of it during our summer in Jordan.
Hungry for dinner, 12 out of the 23 of us headed to a restaurant for dinner. There, we enjoyed the countless delicious dishes the Middle East is famous for– hummus, falafel, kebab, lamb, mansaf, and more. We got to know each other more, enjoying our few days of speaking English before we have to sign the language pledge and speak only in Arabic. How exciting!
Enjoying authentic Middle Eastern food
However, as exciting as being in a new country is, it’s important to get enough sleep and take care of yourself. After an already amazing 48 hours in Jordan, I can’t wait for what the next two months will hold.