I could spend this blog post talking about my journey to Amman: the eight hour Arabic study session during the plane ride from D.C. to Vienna, the way we were given diplomatic status upon our entrance in Jordan, or the hours we spent in In-Country Orientation when we arrived. But none of that seems as meaningful as my first experiences in the city that will be home for the next six weeks. The streets, the food, the language, and of course, my host family.
It was during our first day in Amman that we had a chance to explore the city. It felt strangely familiar. It didn’t take much time for me to realize why: this city is just like the cities of India. The streets lined with shops and vendors, with bright signs and loud calls, and roads packed with taxis and people alike. The steady buzz of traffic that rings in one’s ears. And a certain scent, not sweet, yet not foul, that pervades the air. The sights, the sounds, and the smells, all remind me of the country that I call my second home. And the food. I can go on a long tangent detailing the delicious Jordanian cuisine, but I feel that mere words can’t do justice. The flavors, spices, and aroma, although new to me, bear a similar delight to the senses that only Indian food can bring.
While my initial experience in Amman was exciting, it wasn’t near complete without the most important part: my host family. I moved in with my host family yesterday, and every minute of it has been wonderful. I don’t doubt that the next few weeks will be a delight. When I arrived, sweaty and tired, it was my eight year old host sister, Rand, who took upon herself, the responsibility of helping me, no, teaching me how to organize my closet. I poorly folded one of my shirts to place in the cabinet, and Rand, disappointed with the lack of effort, showed my how to properly fold the clothes. Later that same day, Rand, came to me and quietly whispered “Bhebik” or “I love you” in Arabic. I was so touched by the little girl’s affection; I had only known her for a day, but she had already opened up to me, and was treating me like her very own sister. The boys, Osama and Hashem, took a little longer to become comfortable, but after passing a ball and racing around the yard in the evening, they both gave me good night hugs.
Today, after I came home from school and took a shower, Rand insisted on brushing my hair. Perhaps due to competition or sheer curiosity, two-year old Hashem decided to give it a try too! The little kids are so cute! After a delicious dinner, I went out with my host siblings and host dad to get ice cream from the market. It was nice to take a walk and see the neighborhood, and spend time with my sweet little siblings. I really love spending time with my host family; they are so open-hearted and welcoming, not to mention their Arabic lessons and 24/7 immersion!
It is getting late now, and although I, like my fellow classmates have noticed the Arab summer schedule of staying up until one or two, and waking up early all the same, I definitely need some good night’s rest, especially with school tomorrow. Speaking of school, tomorrow is our first day of classes. Today, we had orientation and a placement test, and based on the test we will be divided into three different classes. Although we will get a lot of homework, I don’t doubt that Arabic school will be an absolute blast! I can’t wait for class tomorrow!