Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Aftermath

I finally got myself an iphone which means I can much more easily make collage photos. So I will now post a series of collages I just made covering the time since I last updated you on my activities.

My first weekend in Jordan I visited Ajloun and Jerash in the North, so my last weekend I did the same.  I was treated to a huge feast and got to see a local farm in Ajloun. It felt more like March than December!

A couple of nights before I left my friends whisked me off to a good bye party at a farmhouse by the Dead Sea, complete with 3D TV, an indoor pool, and a garden with fruit trees and chickens. We made our own shish kebab, went for late-night swims, and in the morning I got to feed the chickens!

Guess the fruit featured in the lower right picture!

After a dramatic last day of fitting in packing, saying good bye to friends and family, and nearly missing my flight, I arrived in snowy Istanbul to reunite with one of my best friends. We had a relaxed day of drinking coffee at Galata Life Cafe in Taksim, then strolling over to the Hagia Sophia, which was already closed, and then getting Adana kebab at Omar Cafe and Restaurant, a penthouse restaurant in Sultanahmet. That evening I got a tour of Bogazici University campus, where my friend is an exchange student for the year, and then went on to find my couchsurfer for the night. After much confusion I found the friendly young man who had offered his home to me and we caught a ferry across the Bosphorus to get to his Asian apartment. We went to an Irish pub (I feel like EVERYONE, no matter what city, has a go-to Irish pub) but I was so exhausted from all the traveling and farewell stress that I retired early (1am). However, it was time wake up around 4 hours later to walk through eerily deserted Istanbul streets between those solemn hours after people have gone home from the bars but before the breadwinners need to go to work, in order to catch my flight to Stockholm. The couchsurfer kindly guided me through the foreign Asian streets, and because we were so tired I nearly left my carry-on suitcase with him! On the way I made some interesting friends, such as the two Belgian guys who had just won an illegal poker game. Nothing like early morning adventures in a city I'm growing to love.

 On the way to Stockholm I happened to be seated in Gaza refugee central. When my fellow passengers found out a Swedish girl spoke Arabic they whipped out identification papers for their whole families and told me their stories with tears in their eyes. Unfortunately, I couldn't do anything for them but listen. However, it gave me insight into the respect I gain for being a Western woman who speaks Arabic dialect.

In Stockholm the snow was falling even heavier than in Istanbul, to my great delight. My cousins immediately brought me into Old Town Stockholm, where we scoured the Old Town christmas market that I love so much. That night I stayed with my cousins at their house in the archipelago, and the next day we went cross-country skiing, made snow angels, and fit in an entire Swedish christmas evening before I had to head back into Stockholm city for the next place I would put my head to rest, at a family friend's apartment. I found myself walking deserted city streets again, as I arrived near midnight on the night before christmas eve. It was remarkable to see one of Sweden's main shopping streets deserted.
In the US I was greeted by my beautiful family, and despite feeling a bit sad to see all my exciting adventures end, I was truly exhausted and so happy to be home. I immediately showed off the traditional Jordanian dress I had bought, one of my final souvenirs. My parents had created a traditional Swedish christmas dinner, just like the one I had with my cousins two nights before. Fortunately, I LOOOVE Swedish christmas food so I didn't mind eating the same thing again. In the days that followed we made gingerbread houses, visited the Newseum, and my sister and I attended a DJ show with Steve Angello. The fun never stops!

Since then I've been back in university but I'm having a great semester. I've paired a class I'm taking at the George Washington University on the Anthropology of Gender with a class at the University of Jordan studying Arab Feminisms, and the great crosscultural interaction can be witnessed in blog form. Please check it out and read the comments too! One of my classes is at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History with a forensic anthropologist who worked for the FBI for 30 years. It's like CSI meets Night At The Museum. Another one of my classes is taught by celebrity chef Jose Andres, as well as a host of big names in the food world. As a foodie, I love having homework such as going out of my comfort zone in a food experience, making a cooking video on Middle Eastern cuisine, or baking the perfect molten chocolate cake. In short, I love my university!

I've also been doing some traveling. Over MLK Weekend (in January) I went for a ski trip in West Virginia with a group of couchsurfers, my sister, and my dad. We all had a great time! Right now I'm on spring break. I just finished off a few days being spoiled by my grandma and aunt in Providence, RI (and cuddling with their adorable cats) and now I'm in my beloved New York City. I should get to bed though, so I'm charged for an exciting day of Columbia University, Central Park, MoMA, the Rubin Museum, etc. I NEED TO MOVE TO NEW YORK SOMEDAY!

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