Today was the day that marks the beginning of my ascent from the valley of culture shock. The past week was very busy with school and starring in the opening ceremony of the U17 FIFA Women’s World Cup here in Amman; being famous is exhausting!! However, despite all of the fun activities I have been randomly thrown into, the inevitability of culture shock always looms and it definitely hit me last week. Although I have lived in the Middle East for a year of my life, I am not immune to the trap of culture shock. It can happen at any time and to anyone and it is not very fun!
Alas! While sitting at my favorite café doing homework and studying for the Foreign Service Officer Test (which I am taking on Tuesday – prayers are appreciated!!), I had a moment where something shifted. I knew that from tonight onward I would be making my climb back up to the peak of cultural awe, which is completely fitting seeing as I am reaching almost exactly halfway through my time here.
I could tell today was THE day when I was buying falafel sandwiches from my favorite shop where I can get 2 sandwiches for a little over $1. I though about how sad it will be to not have cheap falafel sandwiches just down my street.
I could tell today was THE day when I was ordering argileh at my café and the two waiters knew my argileh flavor and chatted with me and my friends in a NON CREEPY WAY (not that they have been creepy before, but just as a general rule the “shababs” [Jordanian young men] are very creepy and never hesitate to throw out a good cat call or shameless stare or a casual stop of traffic to watch you walk by).
I could tell today was THE day when even at midnight we found a new place called Planet Donut that had REAL ice cream for only $1.40!! Something I haven’t had in a long time.
I could tell today was THE day when I was planning my fall break trip with friends and getting super pumped about hiking for 5 days around natural Jordan. (I can’t wait to share pictures and my experience from this trip which will take place in two weeks!)
And I could tell today was THE day when I realized I had been complimented three times over the past three days about how good my street Arabic was….AKA the best possible compliment a native Arabic speaker can give you about your speaking abilities. Reminding me that all of the creepy catcalling, staring, and car following is worth it!
**Disclaimer: I never feel unsafe, though I am always vigilant and don’t walk alone especially at night. The creepiness is mostly harmless and just makes for extreme discomfort.
A pic representing my nighttime fun in Amman…pictured: Nizar, Ana, me, Arie at U Roof Lounge (one of our favorite spots)
Even my family got to watch the opening ceremony all the way from America! Jordan lost to Spain 6-0
My costume from the opening ceremony of FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup