Monday, September 3, 2012


I don't have much time to write, since I want to get some sleep before yet another busy day tomorrow. So far I love being in Jordan! It's too soon to really have gotten a sense of the place but over all Amman is much more diverse than I expected, and all the program participants are really intelligent and driven, as well as really kind and friendly. I have no complaints about CIEE, which seems incredibly organized and well-coordinated, to the extent that it feels like we are a much smaller group than over 130 students. I had no complaints about the hotel either, until I saw a HUGE cockroach in the bathroom. Even on the fourth floor of a five-star hotel you can't avoid them. I feel like I should call room service, but then again the cockroach won't kill me so I'll see if I can tough it out.

Yesterday, my first day in Amman, I slept through breakfast until noon. Feeling refreshed, I ventured out into the hot and foreign city to search for a bank. The first person I asked was a friendly man from Dubai walking home from work, who walked me all the way to Western Union to exchange my dollars, and then upon hearing that I was hungry he showed me his favorite shawarma place. We then went to a nice cafe and he told be about his broken hearts. Unfortunately I had to "break" his heart too, but he was very friendly and with good intentions.

That evening at dinner I got to know the program participants for the first time and we continued our introductory conversations about university, hometown, and majors in a cafe across the street. So far I'm being known as the couchsurfing Swede, which I have no problem with. Today we woke up early for a city tour, divided into four student groups seeing the same sights in different order. My group first went to the Royal Automobile Museum, which proved that not only Sweden's king is crazy about cars, but so is Jordan's king. Afterwards we checked out the CIEE center, which was small but organized. The receptionist was adorable and I think all of us want to be her friend after her little welcome speech. We had lunch downtown at Jafra Cafe, a great restaurant where the moment you think that the meal is finished, they come out with three more dishes.

After lunch we saw the Roman Amphitheatre, that seats 6000 people and is still used for national celebrations. The climb up, despite the burning sun and black blouse, was worth it, and I couldn't help but reflect on the ingenuity of the Romans and their once-great empire. We also saw the Museum of Popular Traditions, which had an excellent display of different female tribal dress in the region.

This evening I ended up being the only girl down at the pool, as they were pumping mediocre house music and Celine Dion out of loudspeakers in preparation for tonight's exclusive party. So far I don't find the men any less invasive or offensive than in the Mediterranean. I got just as many stares fully covered on the street as in a bathing suit by a hotel pool. After living in Malta, I'm already relatively used to the added attention.

In the evening a group of us relaxed on the rooftop bar of the hotel, then went down for dinner, and then returned back to the 13th floor for salsa-dancing. I never would've thought I'd be spinning around to live salsa music in Amman! The Iranian football team is also staying at the Landmark Hotel, so I had a pretty substantial audience. We then moved on to the cafe we visited the night before, and had wonderful conversations over watermelon-flavored nargileh. Tomorrow we have orientations in the hotel and then move to our host families. I AM SO NERVOUS! But so excited at the same time. I will be staying with a lovely all-women family living in Dabouk. I will tell you all about my host family in a couple of days. Bye for now!

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