Week 3: Reflections and a Rushed Synopsis

32 minutes ago, I chose to ignore the following phone message from the person nice enough to be taking responsibility for these blog posts: “pls send me blog posts sometime in the next hour or so.” I must therefore ask, dear reader, that you forgive the shoddiness of my writing at this time. Next time you read one of my blog posts I promise that it will be terrible due to my inherent laziness rather than due to its being written in a rushed manner. On to my ruminations on Duke Engage Jordan thus far.

I am going to start with what I have struggled with. Here in Jordan, I rarely speak my native language, am always worried about getting lost somewhere in this maze of identical buildings, and sleep in the same room as a stranger. Basically it’s been like O-week all over except this time I am surrounded by fairly self-confident Jordanians instead of insecure first-years, the buildings are beige rectangles instead of glass boxes, I don’t know the language, and my new roommate also shares a bed with me. Oftentimes I am homesick, uncomfortable, and anxious. Due to the aggravation of my usually mild sleeping disorder, I am also often exhausted. In addition, I am now fasting as the month of Ramadan has come about.

The bit that is supposed to come next is how I am dealing with all of these issues. The answer is not very well. I’m working on it though and just this morning managed a full two hours of sleep. The question then becomes why am I still around if I’m having all of these issues? I actually do have the answer to this one. It’s the answer to why I’m still a Duke student despite facing similar issues there; the pros make one forget all about the cons.

My homestay family is kind and always willing to help. My workplace, made up of a fantastic group of individuals, gives me responsibilities I would never have trusted myself with, but I haven’t failed yet and have learnt so much from it. The personal interactions I have here are so genuine and for every rude, abrasive, or dislikeable character in this city there are a hundred kind, genuine, amicable ones. Duke’s community partner here in Amman, SIT, interacts with us primarily through five people. I feel completely comfortable going to four of those five with any issues I have, and that’s because the fifth, Muhammad, doesn’t speak much English and his job is locking up the SIT centre after eight. He doesn’t do much student counselling but I’ve learnt that he’s still great to have a laugh with. I’d change his name for this blog post but seriously his name is Muhammad; you aren’t gonna be able to track him down from that in a Muslim majority nation. There’s also the food. Allow me to remind you, dear reader, that, as a person from the subcontinent Columbus was looking for because of its spices when he stumbled upon North America, a semester of Marketplace food was quite difficult. I occasionally stuck a spoonful of mustard into my mouth just to wake my taste buds up. Here, however, I cannot remember having had a bad meal, or even a lacklustre one, except for the time I mistook yogurt for a sandwich condiment. Oh and, finally, I guess my cohort is nice too.

To conclude, it hasn’t been easy but it has been a great experience. It isn’t all perfect, but I have time to figure out the parts that aren’t. Not too much time though; we’re already a third of the way done.

On the next blog post; actual insights on the community rather than garbled nonsense.

-Omar

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