HUMANITY CAN WAIT
Words: Jackson Doering
So you’ve decided to study abroad in Amman. Congratulations! While most of your friends have decided to go to Europe or South America, you have decided to blaze a trail in the Middle East and connect with a culture you’ve probably only heard of on the news. Chances are, you’re nervous about adjusting to a life that is vastly different from your own now. But, that’s not exactly how things are going to work. Here are some curveballs you might not expect from a city that will surprise you at every turn:
1. KFC and Bobeye’s
Globalization, thy name is chicken. And no, that’s not a typo. If you came to the Middle East thinking you would escape from chain restaurants and everything American you are wrong. There is still a litany of American chains scattered throughout the country, but especially in Amman. The funny thing about having Popeye’s in an Arabic speaking country, for those of us that speak Arabic (you know who you are), is that there is no p sound in Arabic thus turning the Popeye’s we know and love into Bobeye’s. Also, it’s actually better here. They use halal chicken which means better cuts of chicken are making it into the bucket. Sounds appetizing right?
The vast majority of Jordanians are literally the nicest group of people. By the end of a simple taxi ride across town you will know the drivers home town, number of children, marital status, and locations of their relatives if you simply start a conversation with them. They usually speak at least a few words of English too. And if you get to know them or the store owners well enough, they will offer you things such as free clothes or not having to pay for your taxi ride. Still pay, as this is merely a gesture of kindness, but seriously some guy you just met will offer you the shirt off his back to make you feel more welcome. That’s some dedication right there.
3. There are no street rules
At least it seems that way. If you come from a country where there are rules on the street such as using your own lane, speed limits, or right of way, you might want to mentally prepare yourself before entering a car with a Jordanian. They’re great drivers, it’s just that when the only defining factor of “right of way” is how far out into the roundabout you’ve managed to wedge yourself, things tend to get a little stressful. There are no real crosswalks in Amman and dodging cars is simply a fact of life. It’s so frequent the J in J-walking probably stands for Jordan.
4. You will gain weight
If you have never experienced Arab food before, you’re in for something special. The falafels and hummus will never cease to amaze you and if you don’t return home having gained at least a few pounds, you’ve done it wrong. Amman is a gastro-vacationers dreamland of Middle Eastern delicacies. The most famous spots to stop at are Hashim and Jafra in the downtown where locals rub shoulders with wide eyed tourists and both take part in the culinary tradition of the city.
5. Wi-Fi draws people almost more than the food
If you’re in Jordan for the long haul or at least a few months, a modem is definitely advised and almost required for anyone trying to get work done. If a more portable option is desired, there are plenty of stores selling dongles (still not sure if that’s the correct spelling) for portable internet. Wi-Fi is fairly scarce in Jordan outside of restaurants and cafes and even then the connection might be spotty. Be prepared to miss out on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. But it won’t even matter in the long run because what is a clever comment on your friends new profile picture when you’re too busy making friends with the locals, hearing the harmonic tones of local Jordanian Arabic, and enjoying the flavors of the city. Besides, that picture you just took in front of the old Roman amphitheater will look way cooler than your friends’ shot of them at home!