Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Well, I’ve finished my last finals. We’ve had our goodbye dinner, and our exit-exam for Arabic. I’ve said a lot of goodbyes, and a lot of see-you-laters. I’ve purchased my last souvenirs from Jordan – and I’m heading out. It’s so weird to say ‘bye. It seems like the semester just flew past – where did the time go? There have been good experiences, great experiences, and some pretty ridiculously terrible ones. Life is a game – I’m glad I took this gamble. I have no regrets on coming over here – and really hope I’ll get the opportunity to return one day. Where am I going? First to Kuwait. Then to Lebanon. Then to the United States. I accepted a job in Lansing, Michigan through AmeriCorps that starts pretty soon after I get back. So as soon as I get home, there will be a whirlwind. My brother’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor. My cousin’s wedding. My brother’s high school graduation and graduation party. My moving to Lansing, finding an apartment, and buying a car. Seriously – How exciting is all of that? I'll be posting a few tips on where to go, what you should do, what was good, and what was bad. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
So, while spending time in Jordan I began noticing a strange obsession with bread. It was never on the ground. It was never in the trash bins.
Monday, April 21, 2014
I had the opportunity to spend Easter morning at the Jordan River. Pretty cool, huh? Anyways, classes are going well. Less than four weeks left of classes! We were given our exam schedule today. Presentation, presentation, quiz, exam, quiz, presentation, ahhhhh! I think I will have more "final" things in these three courses I'm taking than when I'm taking five or six separate courses. I'll be staying in Amman for approximately two extra weeks after my program ends. Top priority right now is securing a job for when I return to the United States. I'll be going back to my Grandma White at our house, my cousin's wedding, my brother's Eagle Scout Court of Honor, Graduation, and graduation party - all within about the first week. I think my family planned it like that to have an excuse to see me a bunch of times because they miss me so much. That's my rant of the day... I'll just leave you with a relevant Polish wish: "Smacznego jajka oras mokrego dyngusa"
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Well, sometimes life doesn't go quite the way you want it to. On Thursday morning, my dear cousin Renee passed away. I would say she succumbed to cancer - but she never quite gave up. Even in her last days, I was hearing reports of her trying to push Jeff (my lovely cousin, her husband) down the stairs. Renee was a fighter, a strong, ruckus-loving woman. Before I came to Jordan, I was hanging out at her house. She told me, "Mandi, if I got cancer so I would die and go to heaven so I could protect you while you're in Jordan, I will come haunt you." It's strange being so far removed from the "action". My family doesn't do funerals quite right... or perhaps they do them just right. Yes, people are sad at funerals, but at the same time a funeral is a celebration of life. I even remember teaching my friend how to play blackjack at a funeral once. Thanks to modern technology, I skyped into the funeral home to speak with some cousins and one of my uncles. Who says being on the other side of the ocean prevents an appearance? Of course, I skyped into the upstairs room where the 'kids' eat food, play cards, laugh and joke around. I don't mean to make a mockery of death - but I know Renee is in a better place. I also know there was a better reason than me that God wanted her back so soon... I haven't had a giant foot come out of heaven and kick me in the rump yet. Perhaps the angels needed a karaoke Queen. Rest in Peace NeeNee!
Sunday, March 23, 2014
I had an amazing opportunity yesterday. Due to a cancellation of a previous day-trip I had signed up for, I was offered to go with another group of Americans (not the ones in my program) on their trip. This went from an Eco-Park, to two restricted military zones, to UnQais. This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I'm grateful that I took it! First, we stopped at the Sharhabil Bin Hasna Eco-Park. This is one of many parks run by Friends of the Earth: Middle East (http://www.foeme.org/), an organization that attempts to bring awareness and cooperation between Jordan, Palestine, and Israel in environmental matters.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Well, I've been wanting to write a note about the gym for a few weeks, but the women this morning definitely gave me a reason. First of all, I would advise anyone who studies in Jordan to get a gym membership. It's not that expensive, ask for a student discount, and you get to take hot showers with excellent water pressure whenever you want. I mean, still be considerate of how much water you use, but it's definitely worth it. Second, I go to a women's only gym. It looks like a typical gym, and upstairs there is a salon. After a little bit of time, I began to notice some differences. For example, some of the older women bring a thermos of tea to work out instead of a water bottle. Also, every American athlete's nightmare: nobody stretches. Not before they work out, and not after. I've become friends with a couple of the women who always work at the same time as me. The gym is almost more like a social club than a typical gym - there is constant conversation on the machines, especially the treadmills. Which brings me to today. I hop on the treadmill and start running - the lady that is normally next to me isn't there, so I was reading while I ran. Two women came in - talking about wanting to marry Mohammad Abdo. He's kinda sorta like the Paul McCartney of Arabic music (especially in the Gulf). "I would marry Mohammad Abdo" "In Jannah habibi" "Turn on Mohammad Abdo!" *Mohammad Abdo song comes on* *halfway through gets turned off* "Whyyy? Why habibiti? Come here, I'll sing it to you!" *Starts singing loudly* *another Mohammad Abdo song comes on* "Thank you, thank you habibiti!" Moral of the story: Mohammad Abdo is not good workout music. In the end, it's all about having fun I guess
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
This past weekend was incredible. We went to Wadi Rum and Petra. What was seen cannot possibly be described (unless you’ll take “there was a lot of sand” as a description!). You always know it was an excellent adventure when the last thing you want to do the next day is get out of bed because your feet hurt so badly! This trip was included in the CIEE tuition, and everything was provided including transportation, entry to Petra, food and lodging. Wadi Rum. We took a bus down to Wadi Rum, and at the end were greeted with a delicious lunch. Come on, how often is the food NOT good? I ate way too much, as usual. After food… we jumped into the back of a “jeep” to go on a ride through the sand. Needless to say, Wadi Rum is incredibly beautiful. We stopped a few times, one of the times to climb an incredibly steep sand dune. That was most certainly worth it, especially climbing up the rocks on top of the sand dune. Of course, being short doesn’t help climbing up, but it’s always worse trying to figure out how to get back down! After the jeep rides, we met up with some camels and a ton of kuffeyahs. They gave us each a kuffeya to put on, because they like making Americans look like a ton of posers! Just kidding (but maybe serious, I don’t know!). Those of us who brought our own continued to wear those, you know – protecting heads, hair, and faces from the sun and sand. This is also when Kim and I started to channel our inner Bedouin. (Ha, we’re both clearly such city-girls). Of course, before getting ON the camels, I participated in a quick pickup game of soccer in the middle of the desert. What else would you expect from me? We rode the camels to our tents, where we watched the sunset and settled in for some music, a little bit of dancing, food, and a couple gallons of tea (I seriously think I may have drank a gallon). They made the bread fresh, right as we were standing there. Woke up early to watch the sunrise and eat another yummy breakfast with more fresh bread, then hit the road to Petra. Petra. It is an indescribable place. One of the Seven Wonders of the World. Absolutely gorgeous. A whole lot bigger than I thought it was! We walked approximately 8km and more than 1,000 stairs. It was hot, but it was totally worth it. At the top of the “best” view at the end of the world, we could see over to the mountains of Palestine. On the way back to Amman, we stopped for a snack break near a Crusader castle. The day closed with an absolutely beautiful sunset.