Classes Have Begun

Hello friends and family,

Classes begun on Sunday! (It is Tuesday, 5th February at nearly 3 PM as I write this). So far I have taken my formal Arabic and spoken Arabic classes, as well as a course on intercultural communication. Tonight will be my first class on “Islam in the Modern Context.” I’m currently sitting in a cafe with my friends studying, as most of us had class from 11-1, then have class tonight from 5-7:30.

Formal Arabic class is going to be a challenge for sure. There’s a significant gap between what I learned at Temple so far and the curricula that I will be studying in Advanced II class (which is the name of the class I would’ve been taking at Temple had I stayed). Nonetheless, I expect it to be very productive – the professor pretends she doesn’t speak English at all, sort of a trial-by-fire approach.

Otherwise, I am having a wonderful time! I have settled into the sleep schedule fine, and while everything is different, it is not unmanageable. One of the harder barriers I’ve encountered is communicating with my friends and family in the US, because I get messages when I’m sleeping that I can’t respond to immediately when I wake up (around 3 AM in the US).

It’s necessary for me to speak Arabic frequently, a great deal of the people I encounter do not speak English. I often translate for friends who are earlier on in their Arabic careers. The immersion has already improved my language skills immensely, I can’t wait to see how much I’ve learned by the end!

Erik

Food!

This isn’t meant to be a lengthy or particularly introspective blog post – just a picture and explanation of some food that my friends and I enjoyed yesterday afternoon. We spent a lot of time walking around the Friday market, then stopped in this small, Italian-themed cafe on the less-crowded part of Rainbow St., which also doubled as a place for the owner to display his fantastic watercolor paintings.

What is right in front of the camera is my meal, kofte, which is simply (in this case) minced meat with tomatoes on top. To the left of me, somewhat out of view is kibbeh, which are bread balls stuffed with meat and spice. Above that is a bowl of a well-known staple, falafel. I don’t recall what was above that, I think it was some sort of omelet. Finally, to the right of that is a zaatar pizza, zaatar being a mixture of spices that is very common around here especially at breakfast time. We also enjoyed some fruit juices, which are fresh and wonderful around here.

Erik

Cool Sites in Amman!

Today, in an effort to try to save us from the horrible effects of jet lag and boredom, our staff took us on a tour of some famous sites in Jordan. We saw the Amman Citadel (with the ruins of the Temple of Hercules) and the Roman Theater, a massive amphitheater with a perfectly-designed focal point that allows the entire theater to hear the performer.

Below you’ll find a photo of me posing at the very top of that theater, with some of Amman visible in the background (out of the photo is the citadel, which sits at the top of that hill.)

Erik

I Have Arrived!

It’s 5:22 am here currently, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet written a blog post! I got back to my apartment in Amman at around 9:30 pm last night. My housemates and I are exhausted, but we have orientations to attend, starting at 8:45 am today. I was actually awoken by the call to prayer, but there may be a bit of jet lag involved as well…

The apartment is huge, and very nice. There are a few things that will definitely take some getting-used to, but it is a good setup. The landlord seems like a very nice older gentleman who just wants to make sure we don’t go destroying his apartment. I think we can handle that!

Thanks all for following, and for your support and encouragement, it means a lot!

Erik

Upgraded!

Off to a great start already! My plane is basically empty, and as a single traveler, they upgraded me to business class for free 🙂 I’m enjoying some of these benefits already… 🍷 This may be the most legroom I have ever had and ever will have. It’s a wonderful thing! Next stop Toronto!

Erik

En Route

Now it’s a waiting game – I’ve got another hour to kill before the first leg of my journey: Baltimore to Toronto. This is a quick flight, then I’ve got about three and a half hours in Toronto before crossing the Atlantic. I managed to get all aisle seats – a huge plus for my long legs, since the upgrades are pretty expensive on the flights that matter. I’m already sleepy, but for the sake of jet lag, I should be staying awake as much as I can. I am bored, but there’s a lot to think about also, I have to get my visa and a SIM card, and find my way to my apartment once I arrive (Sunday night), then get ready for orientation on Monday morning. It’s all coming together!

Erik