Friday, June 8, 2012


Every adventure begins with expectations: preconceived notions of the unknown. I make sure to always have mine before I set out. Before I left CT I had a clear picture of what I was going to run into on my adventure into the Middle East. I had never stepped foot one into this part of the world but I knew exactly what was going on! Its like the hypothesis at the start of a science experiment. Based on your careful observations of the world around you - stories from friends, research on the internet, movies and television - you create a vivid picture in your mind of what's to come.

The great part about expectations and hypotheses is that they more often than not get completely blown out of the water (with the exception of grade school science experiments which aren't so much experiments in science as they are elaborate art projects - cool! purple lava!). But that's the whole reason for an adventure in the first place! Not to recreate someone else's experience or to prove what you've had in our head is true, but to have your mind totally blown away by a new experience and have that memory burned into your mind for all eternity. Plus you get some way cooler facebook updates than "going to the mall."

My expectations of Jordan were probably pretty standard: third-world, not going to be able to communicate with anyone nor read the road signs, weird food and camels, loads of camels! I love being wrong! Well except when it comes to camels, I really wish there were more camels.

Along with not seeing a single camel to date I have also been really surprised by how Amman is so westernized. I honestly haven't had that much of a problem getting around or eating. We'll get to the food later because it honestly needs its own library of entries, but I haven't had issues getting the food which is the point here; I believe I've put on ten pounds since getting here. Basically, the majority of people here speak passable English if not fluent. Surprisingly however, the people you'd expect to be able to speak English the best - Taxi drivers - probably have the lowest likelihood in my experience of being able to communicate with you. I've really had to work on my Italian over here - lots of hand gestures and talking way to loud for being that close to someone.
Along with English being spoken by most folks and signs having, at a minimum, understandable translations, the Americanization of Amman is pretty surprising. Of course I expected to see McDonald's and Burger King. However, the surprising thing is the amount of other American chains I've seen - Popey's, Chilli's, Applebees, even Fudruckers. I have made it a point though to not eat at an American chain unless feeling extremely homesick. So far, no burgers for me.

Because English is so prevalent I also haven't had any major language barrier hang-ups while teaching dance lessons. It would have been better had I come from the south though. I have had to work on slowing down everything I say. Blank stares usually mean I've gone a mile  minute for far too long or that I've used some colloquial phrase that doesn't quite translate. For instance I've been saying goodbye to everyone for three weeks with "have a good one" and one of the students finally asked me, "A good one of what?" I felt like I was in the Smores scene from The Sandlot.

I'm sure the longer I'm here, the more I'll be surprised and pleased with how faulty my vision of Amman and the rest of the Middle East had been. Still looking forward to new experiences and fun opportunities to dance.


  1. haha! i like this one cause we can totally relate. our group of friends here in germany do the same blank stare... or they pretend to know what you say, laugh, and then immediately go to google translate on their phone and share the results with each other. it's hilarious. their latest favorite phrase of mine is, "shake the piss out of it." i thought they were all going to piss themselves laughing after i said it. so fun living in a foreign country!

  2. SO TRUE!!! People are really the same all over the world... and the things one hears about people outside our world are mostly never true. And then there's those things that you'd never think to expect.... and KAPOW!... you see people spraying on the walls and pooping on the sidewalks.... giving you something fun to write about! lol!
    One of the nicest things about you being in Jordan is that we get a facebook-healthy friend.. [ ;) ] .... and the other.. well, actually,.. that is the only nice thing about you being in Jordan! Going to really enjoy reading your Jordan Journal but we also do miss you :) Staz!, you have a very thoughtful and beautiful writing style :)