Torres, Monica

Name: Monica Torres
Location of Study: Jordan
Program of Study:
Sponsor(s): Susan Scribner Mirza

13 thoughts on “Torres, Monica

  1. After my first week in Amman, my impressions of the city are not what I expected. First of all, Amman is a very suburban and residential city. It is very spread out and difficult to walk anywhere- it is necessary to take a cab almost anywhere I go, especially since there are few sidewalks and few cautious drivers! Secondly, I did not expect English to be such a predominant language. Most people here speak English far better than I speak Arabic, and I have learned that it is polite here to speak the language that a person is most comfortable with, so most people speak English to me even when I speak Arabic to them first. My host family so far has been wonderful- they have made me very welcome, called me their “new daughter” and fed me until I couldn’t eat another bite, but part of their efforts to make me feel at home have included speaking English to me, and I am trying to break that habit. As I learn more colloquial Arabic it becomes easier to pursue a 24/7 Arabic policy, and by impressing my host parents with some cultural expressions that I learned in class (mostly having to do with food and greetings) I think I am convincing them to speak more Arabic to me.

  2. During my second week in Amman I have been learning a lot about the indirectness of Jordanian culture. My teachers try to point out to us some cultural aspects of this place that would probably go unnoticed otherwise, and the indirectness of the culture is definitely subtle. For example, it is difficult for a Jordanian to tell someone that something they are doing is bothering them. One of my teachers once drove to another city with an American friend and the whole way the American was sitting in the passenger seat with one leg crossed over the other, the bottom of her foot facing towards my teacher. In Jordanian culture, showing somebody the bottom of your foot is extremely rude and my teacher was uncomfortable but could not bring herself to ask her friend to put her foot down. Instead, she asked her friend to get the map out of the glove compartment or grab her a snack from the backseat, all in an effort to indirectly make her friend put her foot down. It did not work but she couldn’t bring herself to simply ask her friend to stop. After hearing this story, I have noticed this with my host family; at night my host mom will mention that I don’t have to do homework in my room because there is a big table in the dining room, or every time I try to help with dishes she tells me to go drink tea to help my digestion, and one time she asked me if my feet were cold, and I’m pretty sure she wanted me to put shoes on and not walk barefoot. Learning about these subtle differences is very interesting, but at the same time it makes me wonder how often I unknowingly break some cultural norm.