The first week arriving here in Amman, Jordan. Exiting the Queen Alia Airport on the first day almost seemed like a new beginning for me as it marked the beginning of my 6 months stays here in Jordan. However, my first impression of the country was, instead, as I would like to think, relatively serene, no dissimilar to other expats’. A primarily dry desert land that goes along the horizon as far as the eye could see; indeed, a great contrast to the nearly a mile-high steel beams that I’ve used to seeing in American metropolises. Nonetheless, the next day I quickly departed from the airport hotel and rushed my way to the home address provided by my program sponsor. Meeting other American students who had come here to study was refreshing after a hectic 48 hours of traveling. Although no one was from Boston or Chicago, I was glad to see many who had traveled just as far to arrive here in Jordan with similar goals: acquiring our cultural and language understanding of the Arab/Jordanian through immersion. However, I also learned for the first time that language immersion was also no easy task.
With the first three days of the honeymoon period drawing to a close, the intensive language aspect of the program began to pick up quickly. Recalling the program’s head instructors’ firm yet helpful declaration, we were obligated to speak only in Arabic under the full language pledge that most of us had agreed to obey. In other words, no more English for the duration of the first 2 months of the summer program with our peers, neighbors, and around the community. Despite the simple fact that none of our Arabic, except a few outstanding students and native speakers in our program, the complete transition into utilizing Arabic in nearly every aspect of our lives has been beneficial. Granted that casual communications have now been delayed by language barriers, the language obligation has sought to reorient/rewire communications in a way I never imagined before. As a result, not only has my Arabic witnessed a sizeable improvement, but I’ve also learned to logistically approach my sentences in Arabic to make them more comprehensible.
Interactions with local Jordanians have also been more optimistic than I expected before arriving here. Due to the influence of Western culture and Jordan’s colonial history, surprisingly, most locals and shop owners who live around the neighborhood can speak fluent English. Although that might not be very helpful for my intended desire for language immersion, it has shocked me how the distance between cultures is shorter than many expected. In addition, my visits around the city center in Amman Mountain, Rainbow Roads, and many businesses in my current neighborhood of Sweifieh in my first week have become a testament to the multi-culturalism and diversity of the metropolis of Amman.
Looking forward to the exciting adventure that awaits me!