Ahlan Amman!

As my date of departure approached, I was filled with anticipation and excitement. I was excited to be immersed in the Arabic language and have the opportunity to study in such an environment, but naturally I was nervous to dive headfirst in a new culture. However, I had heard from many others about the amazing experiences they had in Amman, particularly at Qasid, and I was looking forward to creating my own memories.

Before I even boarded the plane, I was given an insight into the Arabic culture and began to appreciate the hospitality and warmth of many of the locals here. Sitting next to me on the plane was a professor at Providence College and her son. She was interested in my Arabic studies and helped prepare me for my oral interview. Additionally, she shared with me some of her insider knowledge about Jordan and its culture. Her interest in my studies and ambitions was genuine, and I knew from then on that I was entering a society where locals would “look out for me.”

Upon arriving in Amman, I was fortunate enough to be placed in a large flat with six other girls! We quickly started exploring areas around Amman such as the downtown markets and the Roman amphitheater. As we drove to various sites via taxi—an adventure in an of themselves—I would stare out the window and try to pronounce all of the Arabic words to myself. It was so new to see store names in Arabic letters rather than strictly English.


As the first week of classes came to an end I could already sense how much Arabic I was going to acquire. In this fully immersive setting both inside and outside of the classroom I was learning so many new words. I also had my first experience with Ammiya, or the colloquial dialectwhen I accompanied one of my friends on an excursion to the home of a local family who lived on the outskirts of Amman. The family had emigrated from Syria to six years ago. The experience was like no other.

The family lived in a three level apartment building. Although their home was not large and they did not have much to offer they openly welcomed us. They were eager to feed us plates of peaches and freshly squeezed orange juice. They quickly asked us to spend the night and to celebrate Iftar—breaking the daily Ramadan fast—with them and their extended family.During Ramadan practicing Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset and at sunset they will eat a larger meal with their family to celebrate breaking the fast for the day. Since my friend and I had never met the family, as my friend knew the daughter of the father of the home, we were humbled to be asked to break the fast with the family. There my friend and I discovered the wonders of fattah hummus, a traditional dish with chickpeas, tahini and fried bread. Although the family was not as fortunate as those in other parts of Amman and lived with worry and longing to be reunited with the rest of their family that was still in Syria, their ability to laugh at each other and enjoy their time together was humbling.