Week 3: Looking Back

Now that we’re about a third of the way in, I wanted to take a second to reflect on what it has been like so far. I was in the car with my host mom last night, we were driving through the city which was full of lights and smells and sounds and the bustle of people preparing for Ramadan, and she asked, “What’s the worst part about Amman?” I was truly stumped. Obviously I’ve had good days and less good days, days when I’ve wished that I could go home to my own bed and my own food and my dog, and days when I haven’t wanted to get out of bed and deal with the stress of having to find a taxi and then communicate with the driver in my ~10 words of Arabic, but could I genuinely categorize anything that I’d seen or felt or experienced as the worst? Absolutely not.

Adjusting to the work climate here has been a little bit difficult, because it is so slowly paced, relaxed, and friendly compared to the US work environments that I’ve been in before and observed. There have been times that I’ve felt a little frustrated because I haven’t really felt like I had a direction for my work, but those times have easily been remedied by sitting down with the director of the Fund and getting clarification on my assignment and on what ideas he likes, doesn’t like, thinks are feasible, and thinks I should pursue further. Work is definitely not the worst.

My host family has been nothing but kind and supportive, spending as much time with me as they are able and ensuring that we are always fed and happy and have the things we need to get by. Their home is beautiful, their neighborhood now feels like my own, and everything is good. Still nothing that I could categorize as the worst.

Our activities at SIT, the people that run our program, our Arabic lessons, lectures, and trips out into other parts of the country also have been only positive. I’ve learned a lot, often in unexpected places, and the casual conversations that I’ve had with people who live in Jordan through these events have undoubtedly been some of my greatest experiences and most inspiring moments. Still, nothing bad.

And even the little things that could be annoying but are really okay: the excessive traffic might raise the cost of my taxi, but lets me see more of the city and observe more of my surroundings. The excessive heat really has no upside, but according to snapchats from my Mom I couldn’t escape it at home either, so it can’t be the worst part about this place. I was truly stumped by my host mom’s question, though I thought about it for quite a while.

While not everything has been the best ever, which is inevitable because I’m living a real life in a foreign-to-me city, nothing has come close to being the worst. Which is why I’m still so looking forward to the next ~6 weeks (only 6 more weeks?!) in this wonderful city.


Downtown Amman, Late Afternoon

– Helena


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