In my broken Arabic, I asked the bus driver what time I would have to be ready the following day. “Bukra thamaniya?” or “Eight tomorrow?” I asked. He nodded and replied, “Inshallah”, or “God willing”. The following morning, at 8:00, I looked outside the living room window, ready to run down any second when the bus arrived. 15 minutes later, still waiting, I proceeded to study vocabulary. It wasn’t until half an hour had passed that I began to grow concerned. As we texted back and forth on our group chat, it seemed that no one had been picked up. Class was about to start at nine. Would we make it on time? My American self, unaccustomed to such a situation, panicked. The bus finally picked me up at 8:50, and we were 20 minutes late to class. Surprisingly, our teacher at school didn’t seem the least upset. We simply explained to her that bus had been late, and we proceeded with class after the 20 minute delay.
There so many phrases in Arabic that include the word “Allah”, or God. There is “Alhamdulillah” which means “Thank God”, or “Mashallah” which is used to express admiration. But the one I hear the most here in Jordan is “Inshallah”. Regardless of the situation, Inshallah tends to be the response. Not only is Inshallah used to commit to situations while leaving room for a change in plans, it is also used for things that seem inevitable. Will we learn about the dual subject pronouns soon? Inshallah. Will we have a quiz tomorrow? Inshallah. Can I have something to eat right now? Inshallah.
The term “Inshallah” is a testament to the flexible lifestyle in Jordan. Plans are not concrete, and things change. Understanding “Inshallah” requires a change in mindset. I have realized that here in Jordan, assuming a clear plan for the future is not practical; alterations are inevitable. At first, the word “Inshallah” was overwhelming; it meant that what I expected might or might not happen. Within these two weeks, it has become routine. Nothing is ever set in stone, and I have found myself better off with limited expectations, and simply going with the flow. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone into a lifestyle that is incredibly foreign to me, and I am slowly learning to embrace it. In fact, at this point, I feel like by the time I adjust completely to this Jordanian mindset, it’ll be time to go back to all the structure, punctuality, and organization of my life in America. Inshallah, I won’t have too much trouble readjusting!