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Merhaba!

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"Jordan in 10 Items or Less" by Isa Judd

"Jordan in 10 Items or Less" by Isa Judd

If anyone were to ask me what Jordan looked like, I would share this very photo. At first glance you just see a cluster of apartments, sitting on top of a hill. But in my opinion, this very picture represents the epitome of Jordan. Whenever I looked out the window of the AMIDEAST’s classroom, I saw the cluster of apartments. If I walked through the downtown of Amman, I was between those clusters of apartments. When you hiked your way up the citadel and you get to one of the highest hills of Amman, you can overlook clusters of apartments. Finally, when I came home, I slept in those clusters of apartments. It’s all that comes to mind when I think of Jordan.

This photo was taken in Jerash, Jordan. Photo credit: Judd, 2019

To be very honest, Amman, Jordan has grown to be a very modern city. But throughout its development, Jordanians have continued to hold tight to their culture and traditions. On my way to class, I found a shepherd herding his sheep through the neighborhood streets. His herding techniques include whistles and pebbles. The shepherd throws pebbles on the side of the sheep to guide the herd, while his whistles emulate the sound of a whip to redirect any stray sheep from the herd. His sheep travel through the BMWs, Mercedes Benz, and Teslas every morning.

This photo was taken in Amman, Jordan. Photo credit: Judd, 2019

Here is my friend, John, walking through one of the many markets in As-Salt, Jordan. This day was our first day in the city of As-Salt and we learned that the entire city is comprised of homes and markets. As we walked through the markets, we could smell a mixture of spices in the air. As-Salt was built on three main mountains (the cadital, gadaa and salalem) surrounded by the city square. My friends and I took the time to appreciate the unique, vintage architecture of the homes around the city. I visited As-Salt very early in my trip and this city was the very first place I experienced true Jordanian hospitality. In the span of 4 hours, my friends and I were invited by multiple families’ houses for Friday lunch.

This photo was taken in As-Salt, Jordan. Photo credit: Judd, 2019

On my very first day in Jordan, I learned a very important lesson: always check the meter. Jordan taxi drivers are notorious for not starting the taxi meters so that they can make up a price at the end of the trip. But taxi culture is so prevalent here and most times it can be the only convenient mode of transportation. I have found myself paying double the price of a ride because of my lack of Arabic language skills. Fast forward two months later, at the end of the program, I have become very confident in my ability to negotiate with taxi drivers. But in all honesty, I owe it the taxi drivers; I have learned so much in the passenger seat of taxis. So many drivers have critiqued my Arabic, recommended the most gorgeous places in Amman, explained so much of Jordanian traditions to me, introduced me to Jordan’s most popular music, and were always willing to rush me to class every morning when I was late. I have met some of the most astonishing, most sensible humans in the driver’s seats of taxis and not for one second has anyone of them remembered to start the meter. I love Jordan’s taxi culture. Photo credit: Judd, 2019

I spent my last weekend of my program in Aqaba, Jordan and it was a life-changing experience. At this pier, I overcame my fear of water and learned how to swim. Being surrounded by my new lifelong friends motivated me to face my fears. I jumped right into the Red Sea and swam to the top. I would never forget the moment of investing my trust in my friends and learning to be brave! Within hours, I was snorkeling throughout the sea and discovered a whole new world I never thought I would see. (By the way, the Red Sea is actually blue!)

This photo was taken in Aqaba, Jordan. Photo credit: Judd, 2019

Isa Judd is a student at Rutgers University and attended the summer Intensive Arabic program in Amman, Jordan.

"Adventures in the Old City" by Tyler Cremins

"Adventures in the Old City" by Tyler Cremins

"Petra & Wadi Rum" by Kristen Redding

"Petra & Wadi Rum" by Kristen Redding