me in the ME

the semester of fun, sun, and Arabic

Signs of Summer

My schedule and sense of time is always a little off in Jordan. Seven hours ahead of EST, except when Daylight Savings Time started about a month later here and we were only six, my daily schedule varied from waking up between 7 and 11 in the morning. The exact time of the first call to prayer changes daily, and is currently around 4am while at the beginning of the semester, it was closer to 6am. At times, it has been the first thing I heard after I woke up and at others, the last thing I heard before I went to bed. Classes are from Sunday through Wednesday and I’m always confused as to what day it actually is. Days of the week in Arabic are essentially numbered, i.e. day one, day two, etc. Should be easier to remember that way, right? Nope, after 3 years of Arabic I still have to count from youm alahad (Sunday) to figure out what the equivalent day is in English. And don’t even ask me what day of the month it is. I got myself a one-a-day calendar to try to remember but let’s be serious- I never know in America what day it is either.

It doesn’t help that Middlebury starts and ends so much later than all other programs. So even before I came to Jordan, I was already in the habit of lazy days back to back where I would never have to check the date. It’s unreal that college graduation pictures are getting posted when I’m still in classes. Last day tomorrow though, whoo! Even though I’m still in “school” mode, I can already tell the seasons are changing. Just ignore the fact that we had a “chilly” day yesterday- no sun, a light breeze, and a few raindrops! In general though, the weather is warmer, classes are winding down, and the foreigners are swarming into town.

I didn’t notice it at first until other people mentioned it. Funnily, it was on separate occasions, talking about different groups of people.  My Arab roommate was the first to note the increasing number of Saudis in Amman recently. Since I generally try not to stare at the men passing by, I hadn’t noticed. Whereas she lives in Saudi Arabia, so I’m taking her as the expert on this topic. I think it’s gotten pretty hot here in Amman, though I don’t notice real variations in temperature anymore. I don’t check the weather anymore because I know what it’ll say: in the 80’s from morning till night, sunny, maybe a few clouds if you’re lucky. In Saudi Arabia though, it’s so hot that Amman is considered a vacation location. In the summer, Saudis swarm here to get away from the heat. Already, the daily high in Riyadh is over 100°F and will climb even higher in July and August. No rain to cool it down either- the current weather status there is “widespread dust” and on average Riyadh gets as much precipitation per year as Boston does in a month. Even worse is Jeddah, where my roommate used to live. Right on the Red Sea, humidity reigns supreme PLUS the temperature is crazy high. So whereas people might have lake or beach houses in the U.S., people in Saudi Arabia might have a summer house in Amman.

Saudis actually have a really bad reputation in this area. Jubeiha is the red light district of Amman, so it’s already a bit sketchy and adding to that, Saudis are known for being the worst perpetrators of sexual harassment. Specifically with cruising around in their cars and at times following girls. Luckily something I’ve never experienced myself, but it doesn’t give a good impression of Saudis in general, especially given the status of women’s rights in general in Saudi Arabia.

The second group flocking to Amman is actually Americans. Just in the past week, I’ve seen so many more Americans than I did in the past few months. Hearing people I don’t know speaking English freaks me out still. It’s like being on the airport preparing to go to England all over again. My ears perk up, my head swivels around, eyes searching for my magical, forbidden mother tongue. But it does makes sense that they’d arrive now- university in the U.S. has let out for the summer and other summer programs are starting to begin. I imagine this is just the beginning, as it’s still fairly early for summer programs to be starting. It’s really obvious that some people are really new to Jordan though. Yup, that was me a few months ago.

What I’m not really clear on is if everyone is here to study, or just on vacation. My experiences are pretty limited to the university area, so I would naturally jump to the conclusion that everyone is here to study. Taking summer classes is far more common in Jordan than in America, and often necessary to actually graduate on time. From the American perspective, summer is the perfect opportunity to travel and study at the same time. So mumkin? I have no idea.

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