Around Egypt

Wed October 14th – Fri October 16th

Weekend in Cairo!!!

Train from Alex –> Cairo

–       None of the computers at the station were working = no tickets = problem –> by some miracle one another Middlebury kid (VERY advanced language skills) showed up –> under his direction we took another train to another station where he negotiated for unofficial tickets for the train to Cairo –> we didn’t have actual seats so we had to move around in the cars a few times, but we got there!!

–       Took the metro from the train station to the hostel

–       Hostel = pretty nice

–       Nearby Café –> fresh mango juice

PYRAMIDS with about 5 other Middlebury kids

–       6:00 am

–       Metro

–       “Private tour” (one of the kids in the group fell for a scam – we were stuck with our “tour guide” for a while but finally got rid of him)

–       “Private minibus” (the same kid fell for it again)

–       The Great Pyramid

–       The Second pyramid

–       The third pyramid

–       Walked a bit further and got a great view of all three pyriamids!

–       The Sphinx

–       Cab (I negotiated this one – no scam!)


Dinner at really good pizza restaurant –> Halawani (pastry/desert shop)

Day 2

–       Tickets

–       Walked around Khan al-Khalili (famous souk [market] in Cairo)

–       Beautiful mosques in Islamic Cairo

–       Lunch at GAD

–       Gamaliyya?? Another markety-area, though not sure if we were there or in another market…

–       Talked to a nice Egyptian kid

–       Juice at a café – problem = most places don’t have menus/fixed prices = you have to bargain to avoid tourist scams –> but we forgot to do that before we ordered… –> waited asked for 45 pounds = laughable (15 would be appropriate) –> we did not pay 45 pounds – we left 20 on the table (which was still expensive)

–       Picked up our bags from the hostel

–       Train

Wednesday  October 21st – Saturday October 24th

Siwa Oasis!!!

All the kids from the program plus a bunch of their Egyptian roommates from the dorms


–> 2 buses (first one left at around 4/4:30; mine left at around 6:30 after the later classes ended)

–> 9 hours on bus.

–> Arrive at hotel at around 3:00 AM (more like a hostel but the café in the courtyardy area had great pancakes!!)


–> Sleep in until around 9:00!

–> Touristy activities (in two large groups via which bus you took from Alex)

–       Mount of the Dead = awesome view of the oasis and the desert that stretches from the edge of it + tombs – ancient Egyptian tombs – you can walk inside some of them – BEAUTIFUL wall paintings – tombs!!!

–       Citadel-type place where Alexander the Great hung out (can’t remember the name of the place since I am a bad tourist) + one of the oldest (?) mosques in Egypt (small/really cool architecture/chimney-like minaret)

–       Cleopatra’s Bath – a kind of natural spring with SPARKLING Lisa-Frank-worthy water (dipped my feet in!!)

–       Sat at a café on the same street as Cleopatra’s Bath (the pool is actually in the middle of a dirt road/rotary/type-deal) for several hours chatting and drinking mango-pomagranet juice!

–       Rented bikes from near the hotel

–       Rode said bikes to popular spot to watch the sunset over a marshy area –> it was cloudy that afternoon –> we couldn’t actually see the sunset haha

–       Rode the bikes back in the dark – lol! Most of the road was without streetlights haha!

–       Restaurant –> took them over 2 hours to serve us – not really sure why

–       Café!!!

–       The group I went to the café with stopped on our walk to the hotel to play Frisbee with some Egyptians and they made me play despite my hesitation


–       Free time –> some shopping in town (Siwa is famous for having the best olives [check] and dates [check] in Egypt) –> walked around Shali (ruined citadel dating to the 13th century-ish on a hill in town) –> more pancakes at the hotel

–       Desert Safari!!! About 5-6 people in each jeep OOO they drove fast OOO we went down really really really big sand dunes OOO it was way better than 6 Flags

o      The desert was so gorgeous

o      The shadows on the dunes were amazing in the late afternoon sun

o      Stopped at a mini oasis – a bunch of people went swimming but I dipped my feet in since I didn’t have the right change of clothes (def going in when we go on the trip again in the spring!!)

o      Stopped at a mini hot spring – dipped my feet in again

o      Stopped at an ex-lake/sea where you can see fossilized animals embedded into the ground – not joking – so awesome! Left my camera in the jeep so don’t have pictures of this one – sorry!

o      Stopped to watch the sunset from a great spot on the top of a dune

o      Some people went sand-boarding – I was happy watching and playing in the sand – the sand is so fine and soft!!

–       Arrived at the camp –> food –> fire + Siwi music –> truth or dare minus the dare in the desert (really fun) –> Most people went to bed but I stayed up with a small group (mostly Egyptian roommates with some program kids) basically all night around the camp fire –> saw at least six shooting stars –> walked to a great spot to watch the sunrise with a couple people just before dawn –> got back to the camp just in time to ride back to town in the jeeps


–       Breakfast provided by the program = 150-200 falafel sandwiches in a giant cardboard box – LOVE IT!

–       Another 9 hours on the bus

–       Back in Alex!!

GREAT Trip!!!

a)     I feel more connected to the country after traveling to different areas – I have a better sense of where I am geographically (same experience in Jordan too)

b)    Hung out with EGYPTIANS MY AGE!!! I chatted a lot with one kid in particular – he is really really nice and great to practice Arabic with so I hope the opportunity to hang out with him arises again soon!!

c)     I am def clicking with the kids on the program better – there are still a few that live up to my initial impressions, but some of the others are definitely fun to hang out with



Taking Arabic calligraphy lessons at an arts/culture center in Alexandria (usually twice a week)

–       The classes are really small (normally me and a few other Egyptian girls)

–       The instructor is really nice and gives lots of 1-on-1 attention

–       LOVE


Two Middlebury girls randomly met another American girl studying/working here at the mall –> she extended an open invitation to a Halloween party at her apartment –> two Middlebury girls told me –> I went with another friend –> everyone there was really cool! It’s always fun to meet new people and expand the social circle!! (especially in a foreign country!!)

Over the Halloween weekend –> hanging out more with program kids = good

November 4th

Moved out of Madam Fatima’s apartment to the girls dorm!

Dinner at Mohamed Ahmed’s (really cheap, really fast falafel/etc) with a few other girls

Love my new roommate!!

November 5th – November 13th

Trip to Upper Egypt


From Alexandria to Aswan: NINETEEN HOURS

Aswan Day 1

–       Got to the hotel at around noon

–       Falafel

–       Souk (market)

–       Vendors always shout out random thing but this time my friend and I got “Two angry women” with the inflection of a statement…?

–       Turkish coffee

–       Walked around the souk some more –> bargained and chatted with random shop owners

–       Ciesta in the hotel

–       Dinner at Oum Kathoum Restaruant (named after FAMOUS Egyptian singer Oum Kathoum)

–       Bought pastries

Aswan Day 2

–       Left hotel at 3am

–       Drove through a lot of desert

–       ABU SIMBEL at around 7:30am (the scale of the statues was incredible)

–       Drove some more

–       Small boat to PHILAE (temple complex on a small, but beautiful island)

–       Short drive back to the hotel

–       Excellent dinner at seafood restaurant

–       Small group –> feluccia ride

–       Search for hookah –> anti-hookah laws in Aswan = epic fail –> café –> restaurant –> we all practiced speaking Arabic in Southern accents (Southern as in Alabama)

Aswan Day 3 –> Feluccia Day 1

Walked around a bit

Finally found a colloquial dictionary and BOUGHT IT!

Boarded feluccias at around noon

–       Seven or eight people on each boat

–       Five boats

–       Small sailboat

–       Two guys did all the sailing and cooking

–       The deck was fairly wide and flat

–       We sat on blankets and cushions

–       The deck was sheltered from the sun with a cloth roof

–       Only bummer – no bathroom on board –> we took short breaks on the shore of the Nile…

First night

–       All the boats moored on the shore near a huge sand dune

–       We all hung out

–       Got some mosquito bites…

Feluccia Day 2

The Nile River

–       Much calmer than I had imagined – the flow of the water was not that fast and the only turbulent waves we encountered were from the wake of larger boats

–       Gorgeous! The shores are lined with vegetation but you can see desert hills rising in the background + stork-type birds


–       Playing cards

–       Backgammon

–       Napping

–       Calligraphy

–       Reading

–       Lots of conversation

–       It was soooo relaxing

Feluccia Day 3 –> Luxor Day 1

End of feluccia

–       We were ready to get off by the second morning


EDFU Temple

–       Beautiful temple

–       Took a rubbing of some heirolgyphics (paper + colored pencil against a wall)

–       Overheard a tour guide talking about a shrine: “I’m not convinced, though that is the most logical theory we have.” What?!?

…More bus


–       Hotel/shower finally!!

–       Food

–       Karnak –> closed = fail

–       LUXOR temple at night = spectacular (the lighting was very romantic)

–       Café with two other friends

Luxor Day 2

–       Rented bikes with about 10 other kids for the day (everyone else took a bus)

–       Had to cross the Nile –> took all of our bikes on a really small boat = fabulous!!

–       VALLEY OF THE KINGS (the paintings inside the tombs were overwhelming)

–       HATSHEPSUT’S tomb (the surrounding cliffs were intimidating – I understand why she chose that site – also decided that if she were alive today she would make a great Smithie!)

–       Lunch

–       Rode back to the Nile –> another boat

–       KARNAK (magnificent – the scale of everything was SOOO BIG!!)

–       Sunset

–       Returned bikes

–       Shower/short ciesta

–       Most of us took two minibuses to a Coptic festival/fair about a half hour outside Luxor –> ate deserts

–       Midnight snack from McDonalds (nothing else was open!!)

Mohamed Mounir/Cheb Khalid

–       Took an early train from Luxor –> I SLEPT

–       Arrived in Cairo at around 6pm

–       Dinner

–       Met up with a bunch of the Egyptian guys from the guys’ dorm at the restaurant

–       Took bus to the concert

The concert

–       It was huge! Huge stage with lights and fire and fireworks in the middle of a large field

–       The guys all insisted that the girls stay in the center while they formed a border around us – when the crowd got pushy (that happened A LOT) they made sure that no one broke up our group since it would have been really hard to regroup in that crowd

–       The music was great but by 2am we were ready to leave

–       Took the bus back to Alex

Back in Alexandria

–       Finally got back to Alex at around 2am on Friday

–       Have a bit of homework

–       Tonight we are all going to a café to watch the Egypt-Algeria soccer match live!!

–       Planning out what to do the last few weekends of the semester!

–       Reflections on the trip in general – I can’t believe that I basically just spent over a ween inside the Discovery Channel – I know it is really corny, but I feel really lucky and really privileged to be living in and visiting all the places I’ve dreamed of since the very first time I saw “The Mummy” – looking forward to all the adventures still to come next semester!!!

Some More Smithie Commentary on Female Culture: Not sure I completely get it yet…


It happens here. Most of the time it is easy to ignore it, but sometimes it gets to you. Most of the time it is just inane commentary from young guys, “Hello, welcome to Egypt. What is your name?” etc. But when it happens more than five times in an evening – enough already! I’m not really sure I understand why they are so persistent:

–       They aren’t winning any points, so if they are working towards – whatever – they are failing desperately

–       Is it just for fun – a way to pass time without any consequences?

But how would they react if they saw their sisters or girlfriends/wives receiving the same treatment from someone else. There is awareness – everyone knows that women deal with daily harassment. Why do the men tolerate it if they know their own family members experience it?

How do women react? Really, there are two options:

a)     React verbally and hope that they will stop (really, this is more likely to pique their interest and probably incite more from them)

b)    Ignore it and walk away (not a very vindictive approach, but at times it seems to be a better option than provoking them)

Perhaps the underlying problem is that it is tolerated within the culture here. Women can’t stop it just by yelling back as each instance occurs, and men don’t seem to harbor any sense of guilt or responsibility.

The Tram

That brings me to my next item – the tram. This part is kinda cool. So the tram here in Alex reserves the first car of each train for women (the metro in Cairo reserves the 4th and 5th cars) – it’s like a little piece of Smith College here in Egypt! Of course, women are welcome to use the other cars, though the large majority chooses the segregated (that seems like an awful word…) car.

The tram is awesome because it basically costs the equivalent of 5 cents per ride – YES! I ride it home after class almost every day and always take advantage of the women’s car because:

–       No harassment – Halleluiah!

–       Less chance of being pick pocketed

But, what is the intended reason for offering a women’s only car?

–       Recognition of harassment –> providing a harassment free environment? It’s a nice thought, but I think it is more likely that it is:

–       In-line with religious and cultural values in general (in terms of male/female interaction)? For instance, when I am on the tram, there are times when it is CROWDED. Sometimes everyone is squished together and everyone forgets their personal boundaries in order to make room for just one or two more people. So you have to wonder, could this system work in a male/female car? A woman in niqab potentially against men while traveling in an over-crowded car? Totz not. I think.

Meanwhile, The Veil vs. “Modern Society”…

–       France…yeah, that went smoothly…

–       While I was in Jordan the issue of niqab (full veil that reveals only the eyes – not burka) was raised in Parliament – I can’t remember if the petition was to ban them completely or just in governmental/educational institutions

–       Currently the issue of niqab is being raised in Egypt – according to BBC: Egypt’s highest Muslim authority, Sheikh Mohamed Tantawi, has said he will issue an edict against the full women’s veils, known as the niqab

Here are the arguments I understand.

It should be banned because:

–       It’s a symbol of the social and political repression of women

–       It’s a radical misinterpretation of the Qur’an

–       It’s physically restricting (sight and smell) –> restricts activities such as driving

It should be left to personal preference (assuming no one is forced to wear it)

–       It’s haven from sexual harassment

–       The definition of freedom should not be limited Western standards

–       Some feel more religiously pious by wearing it

Tricky beans. Some women find comfort in the veil – whether a shield from harassment, a path to God, or both. Others are pressured or perhaps forced to wear the veil by family or local culture.

Should women who chose to wear the veil be punished in order to protect the women who may be wearing it against their will? Should women who chose to wear it stand in the way of what could potentially be a step forward in women’s rights?


October 3rd

(P.S. it is OCTOBER and I have been in the Middle East for THREE AND A HALF MONTHS!!!)

So, fabulous weekend all aroun

Thursday went on a cultural excursion with a bunch of the girls in the program. Basically we had a cooking tutorial with a chef in the kitchen of a Maronite church. It was great. So much food.

– (Greek) Salad – cucumber, tomato, cheese (basically feta), olives, vinaigrette

– Soup – a bunch of veggies and some sort of grain-thing –> blender –> didn’t actually try it since I was so full but the other girls said it was really good

– Kufta – basically ground lamb formed on kebab sticks –> grill

– Casserole – thing (need to learn the real names of these dishes) – sliced/boiled zucchini + browned/ground (haha it rhymes!) lamb + cream sauce/rue (I think that is spelled correctly) + cheese (YES!) –> oven

– Crepes – THE BEST PART! Crepes filled with browned/ground lamb and more of the cream sauce/rue + a little tomato sauce + cheese –> oven. Really? Lamb. Cream sauce awesomeness. Cheese. Perfect.

– Date cake – halved/pitted dates all along the bottom of a pie pan + angel-food-cake-ish type batter –> oven –> inverted expertly onto a serving dish! [Batter = 5 eggs, cup sugar, vanilla (in mixer for about 20 min) + flour (more mixer)]

After our GLORIOUS lunch we walked to our coordinators apartment where we had tea 🙂

Friday – ventured to al-Ibrahima (an area of Alex with lost of shopping – a large mall plus lots of independent shops along the streets) with a couple girls from the program. Bought a new shirt (for about $6 or $7!!), file folders themed with kinda creepy teddy bears (actually pretty typical here…), and assorted fruit stickers (necessary)

Both Thursday and Friday provided excellent opportunities to explore the tram! I love the tram. It isn’t that fast but each ride costs the equivalent of 5 cents – amazing. It’s also a good way to see more of the city!

Meanwhile, Madam Fatima is making her quirks known. Overall, I really like living in her apartment and am really glad I’m not in the dorm, though the following can be somewhat annoying:

– I have to buy my own toilet paper – not a big deal, but…??

– She requested that when I use the microwave I always use the generic “reheat” button (something like 3-4 minutes) rather than manually typing a set time = I have to stand there to make sure my food doesn’t explode in the microwave  (I realize this is also trivial)

– I bought a sketchpad with Disney Princesses on the cover and she drew in it as soon as I brought it back to the apartment. She drew my name, which was sweet, but a part of me inside went, “that’s my new Disney sketch pad!”

– Came home the other day to find all of her wet laundry on the drying rack in my room (the one I had to buy my first week here – lol!)

– She prefers that I not eat leftovers for breakfast

– She buys certain food items (fruits/veggies/cheese) in large quantities so we have to eat them non-stop before they go bad

All these things compiled in a list look pretty bad – I’m really happy with the living situation overall – just needed to vent a little 🙂

Maybe her med student connection will make up for it?!?

October 4th

Continuation of yesterday’s rant list: Today I came back to the apartment after class and Madam Fatima came back from work a few minutes later. She knocked on my door holding my neoprene computer sleeve that she took with her to work without asking first. Ha. Cultural differences. Patience. Cultural differences.

Also. Am writing a pretty awesome report after reading a large chunk of my course packet for Islamic Politics. Pretty proud of my reading (and report) – yay!

Also also. No classes on Tuesday (Armed Forces Day). Conveniently there IS a World Cup (ish – that’s what someone told me – I know nothing about sports)  match in Cairo on Tuesday. Egypt vs. (probably) the US. Am going. Am PSYCHED!!!

Also ^3. It rained one day last week!!! [I’ve mentioned this to some of you dedicated readers but…] First time I’ve seen rain since I left home!!

Zuzu in Jordan, Zizi in Egypt, Zoe at Home…

Everyone else updates their blogs all the time! I feel like a bad traveler…


Sept 4th (Cairo interim between Amman and Alexandria!!)

So things are going really well here! Mohamed’s friend picked me up and even had flowers for me! She helped me get settled here at the hostel and then passed my name to one of her interns so I’ve spent some time with her and her sister (one just graduated and the other is in her second year of undergrad – they are both really really sweet and we’ve gone out a couple times!). In the meantime I met up with some Middlebury kids which has been really nice since I think I would have been a bit too overwhelmed if I were on my own (I met three girls – two are really uptight and not really that fun, *sigh*, but the other seems cool and one guy who seems to enjoy some degree of adventure as long as it is on the safe side – we’ll see!)

Egypt Day 1 – Sept 3rd

–> Jehan picked me up with flowers!

–> Hostel

–> Met up with Middlebury kids

–> Iftar at Gad (awesome low-budget restaurant)

–> Walked around Downtown

Taxied by myself successfully completely in Arabic in Egyptian dialect!!!

(Slight bummer = overpaid for taxi)

Egypt Day 2 – Sept 4th

–> Met up with Middlebury kids again

–> Walked all over! (Khan al-Khalili)

–> Talked to a little kid in amiyya for a while

–> Dinner at the Nile Hilton via the whining and manipulation from some of the girls in our group. Pretty expensive compared to regular restaurants on the street as is expected.

–> Walked along the Nile!! The Nile!!!

–> Back to the hostel just in time – the two girls I met through Mohamed’s friend were waiting for me! Need a new Egyptian SIM card…

–> Café (sheesha at last! + fresh mango juice + “hummus” drink)

Day 3 – Sept 5th

–> Hunt for cell phone credit

–> The Citadel (Mohamed Ali Mosque + Palace + Military Museum)

–> Mosque of Sultan Hassan

–> Siesta!

–> Iftar = first time at Hardee’s (not my first choice…)

–> Oud concert in Gamialat – turns out that the oud player (Iraqi) is really famous and hardly ever perfomrs live!

This is really corny but I feel like I am definitely becoming more and more independent with each step of the way. Small scale example: on my way to Washington D.C. for orientation for CLS all I could focus on was, “omg, how am I going to find a cab to get from the airport to the hotel?” – now directing cab drivers in a foreign language isn’t a stretch by any means!

Pre-departure (Jordan –> Egypt) = practically took care of everything myself!

–> Tickets/Hostel with some logistical help (selecting a hostel and getting my money back after the airline charged me twice for my ticket to Egypt)

–> Self check-in at the airline office (with directions on how to get there, of course)


–> Bus

–> Amman Airport

–> Cairo Airport

In Cairo:

–> Taxis in new city

–> Asking directions to specific locations

–> Meeting up with students in the program

What’s Left?

–> Navigating Campus in Alex

–> Mini Bus route

–> Class Schedule

–> Work (?) in sha’allah

Sept 29th

So after about three weeks in Egypt here’s what I’ve been doing!!!

Host Family

So originally I wanted a host family with kids since I heard that young kids are brutally honest when it comes to correcting grammar mistakes and I hoped that kids my own age would be good potential buddies to hang out with in general. I was matched with a family that had a daughter about one year younger than me and two boys (11 and 6) so it seemed perfect! Except after I arrived in Alex they kept putting off picking me up and seemed really hesitant and after 3 or 4 days of hanging out in the girls’ dorm in lack-of-host-family-limbo they backed out entirely. Plan B: Madam Fatima. She is entirely awesome and living with her is a fun experience! Madam Fatima is very religious though she is also divorced and very liberal (not your typical scenario here). For instance, she smokes and stays out late socializing with friends, many of whom are male, and holds no double standards concerning my social agenda – which is fabulous since one of the major concerns I had about a host family were early curfews and rules about going out at night! She also has a ton of friends in high places – practically all of her friends are the managers of major hotels or clubs (like country clubs but bigger part of the culture here and much more accessible). Therefore, during Ramadan we ate out at restaurants in these hotels and clubs every night for free (to Mom: I maintain that the use of “for free” is grammatically correct [at least in spoken American English] and to everyone else: yes, FREE). Local hotels, The Hilton, etc. One night Madam Fatima was invited to the Four Seasons Hotel but I was not so conveniently on a trip to Sinai (the trip to Sinai was worth it…). Yeah. She’s pretty cool.

Kids on the Program

I enjoy hanging out with a few kids on the program but I don’t really spend a lot of time with the majority of them. Many of them pursue activities that I’m not particularly interested in here (clubbing and going to bars). As far as I’m concerned, when in Rome, do as the Romans do! Of course, every now and then it is fun to go out dancing in a club but for the most part, I am interested in doing what Egyptians do – going to cafes, etc. In general, a lot of the kids on the program are keeping an American profile and my goal is to work my way into the local culture as much as possible! A couple of the kids share my mentality, and I think it will be much better as I spend more time with Egyptian kids around my age.


-Fusha (Modern Standard Arabic)

-Amiyya (Colloquial)

-Islamic Politics


-1-on-1 Conversation on Egyptology

So far I’m enjoying all my classes, especially Islamic Politics and 1-on-1! All classes are held completely in Arabic, which is no problem thanks to my classes from the summer 🙂

Also, the language pledge 🙂 So, so far so good! We are all being pretty good about it and speak to each other in Arabic as much as possible (sometimes we fill in vocab-gaps with an English word when its too hard to explain around it in Arabic). Talking to other kids in the program is always amusing since we all mesh Fusha and Amiyya together into a strange hybrid language since we’re not fluent in either of them! This odd form of code switching is effective within our group since we can follow each other though it’s not so helpful when talking to Egyptians haha…


The Mediterranean is gorgeous. My morning commute to class goes right along the beach – excellent way to start the morning. Compared to Amman, Alexandria, and Egypt in general, looks more like the Middle East portrayed in the movies etc. The streets are all stacked with buildings and the streets are full of cars (most of them older models). The traffic here is something else! Of course it is worse in Cairo, but in general everything that people say about Egyptian driving is 100% accurate! It’s kinda fun though…I just hope it doesn’t stick when I come home since that might not be good! Still have to do some basic sight-seeing here in Alex. Have not been to the citadel or to the Roman theater yet! But I have been to all sorts of places around the city with Madam Fatima, which is really cool since I wouldn’t know about them otherwise!

Trip to Sinai – Too fabulous!

Left Alex at 10 pm –> bus for 12 hours 12 hours 12 hours!!!

Day 1: got to Dahab (little tourist-centered town on Red Sea coast of Sinai) at about noon –> went swimming right away! The water was amazing – perfect temperature (maybe a little warm for me and Paden – haha), crystal clear (you could see down past your toes), fish everywhere (not just by the reefs), sooo blue! Also we could see Saudi Arabia from where we were, which is pretty cool!

Day 2: Jeep “safari” to White Canyon, Colored Canyon, Wadi Ghazala, and “Green Eye” Oasis. It started out like the Jeep tour of Wadi Rum in Jordan but here we did a lot of hiking too, which was really fun! The Jeeps drove through the desert for a while and then we started our hike through a canon in the middle of it! Parts of the climb were pretty intense – one part was so steep that we had to use a rope for extra support while we climbed down a steep face! It was pretty hot in the mid-day sun (especially since I was still fasting for Ramadan [though I DID have water]) so it was an incredible feeling when we saw the oasis at the end of our hike! Lunch was served at a Bedouin camp in the oasis and even though I didn’t eat, the rest in the shade was excellent! Afterwards we saw the main water source in the oasis (a kind of natural well inside a small cave – awesome!) and then drove out of the desert in the jeeps. Good day.

Day 3: Snorkeling at Ras Mohamed near Sham al-Sheikh = the best snorkeling EVER. It was seriously like being inside the discovery channel only better!!! The reef was so beautiful and the variety of fish was insane! They were so colorful – two words come to mind: Lisa Frank. Seriously! That night I went to a bizarre restaurant near our hotel with some other kids. The name of the restaurant was “Friends, ” the menu was printed in English and Russian, the food was fairly continental, and all the music playing was Bob Marley. It was delicious but also an atypical dining experience!

Day 4: Free day – totally hung out in the café attached to our hotel all day long! The café was right on the water and was totally open with a roof so the breeze was delightful! I read, did a little homework, a lot of daydreaming, and some doodling. It was sooo relaxing! We left in the bus at 10 pm to Mount Musa/Mount Sinai!

Day 5: started our hike up Mount Sinai at 1am (yes.). The hike was sooo intense! Really long and really steep but so worth it!! We reached the summit by around 3:30 or so – with plenty of time so see the sunrise from the top of the mountain. Seriously sooo beautiful! All I could think of as the sun came over the tops of the surrounding mountains and hills was Vergil’s line about the “rosey-fingered dawn” rising over the horizon. His words were never so clear to me! I am such a nerd.

Then another 12 hours in the bus back to Alex.


Madam Fatima is trying to set me up with a med student that she knows. Not really sure how to think of this. Though I have come to realize that the easiest way to make local friends (at least in Jordan and I assume here) is through mutual friends so maybe this is a good opportunity to make a platonic buddy? Especially since hardly any of the Middlebury kids like hookah!

Also, I have acquired a new nick name: “Zizi”! In general, Egyptians have a hard time with “Zoe,” I guess something to do with the diphthong. Madam Fatima started calling me Zizi (common diminutive form in Egypt) and it kinda stuck 🙂 It’s funny since one of my tutors in Jordan always called me “Zuzu” (common diminutive form in Jordan). Zuzu in Jordan, Zizi in Egypt, Zoe at Home…

~ ~~ ~~~ *TIME LAPSE* ~~~ ~~ ~

August, 31st

Yes. Have not updated for a while. Where have I been all summer? See below:

I made great friends. First off, my roommate (“B” [I’m not sure if naming names in blogs is weird or not so I’m going to go with initials until I conduct deeper research in blog etiquette]) and I became very close. Of course she is a Smithie and was even in my Arabic class this last year. We didn’t really hang out at school but now we’re close buddies and love exploring Amman together! I am extending my roommatedom until my departure for Egypt since she is staying here and working for the year and has a new apartment 🙂

Anyway, so we continued to go out with our tutor (“A”) throughout the summer and we all become close friends. A introduced us to some of his friends in Amman and it was great to branch out. Meeting Jordanians here in Amman and socializing with them in Arabic (and sometimes in English even though that isn’t as cool) was def the most memorable part of my summer and I don’t think I would understand as much of local culture otherwise.

So after the aforementioned 4th of July BBQ-thing with the program, a bunch of us went out with A to a not-BBQ – via last minute change of plans → we went to a really posh nightclub where we met one of his good friends (“O”). After this first meeting, O hung out with A, B, and me a few more times that week and it wasn’t long before the four of us became really good buddies. We hung out most nights (redefined time management in order accommodate social agenda into busy work schedule aka worked like a demon during the day), had many silly mundane adventures, and some legit ones too…

What exactly did we do every night? This is pretty awesome in my opinion: it took the four of us a little while to settle into a kinda-routine. The first bunch of times we went out, the boys, of course, insisted on paying for our meals at different restaurants and cafes: Hashim’s (hole in the wall restaurant with excellent hummus and falafel; so cheap and delicious), Kan Zamman (much nicer ambiance with good food), the kabab place whose (proper relative pronoun?) name escapes me, and others. Many times we would just go driving afterwards (A likes to drive and O has a nice car too). We saw all parts of Amman at night that we wouldn’t have seen from a cab going directly to and from our favorite places. So, before we became regulars at any one of those restaurants or cafes, we started visiting the highway.

Context for Highway – on the night we arrived in Amman our bus (coming from the airport) passed many small groups of people sitting between clusters of trees alongside the highway. Me → “Shwhat?” → So wrong! So one night we somehow decided to park along the highway and hang out outside. We sat on the little mats from inside the car and had some argeelah (expertly provided by O) and some fruit juice and it was absolutely lovely!

So we became regulars at the highway. It took a little time to find our favorite spot (yeah, it matters!) and to procure a proper mat (infinitely better than improvising with mats from the floor of the car), but we really got to know each other just chatting under the [few] stars [not blocked by the light pollution of Amman 🙂 ] Sometimes on the way home from the highway we stopped at a “drive-thru” to get tea. Basically there is a little storefront on a main road that sells tea and other convenience store-type items and all you do is park your car in front and yell out your order to the kid waiting for such orders on the sidewalk. Then he brings it to the car! So fabulous. We loved that tea stand/place.

On nights when we got tired of the highway we went to restaurants and cafes like “normal” people. Our favorite café, Yam Zamman, had good argeelah and really good mouz ma haleeb (basically a banana milkshake). One quirky thing about this place was the guy who set up the argeelahs and replaced the coals.

a) He worked every night we were there

b) He had cray-cray hair – like a faux hawk but on a level I’d never seen before!

c) Work uniform (only all the other regular waiters had a different uniform) = traditional (I think) flip-flop-type sandals with wooden platforms that clicked really loud on the stone sidewalk/patio area = kinda annoying but you have to love it! “Make it work!”

Basically we had a great time doing not-that-much which is the way it should be! It made me feel less like a tourist and more like a student who lives here!

So what about female culture? (only a Smithie, right?) Okay, so from everything that I have experienced, observed, and learned about, there is no one female culture in the Middle East – which makes sense. Foreign women are really only limited by their own comfort zones. For instance, I have seen women out and about in tank tops and knee-length skirts but I pretty much always stick to a more conservative combo of pants + hanes T-shirt (I have 10 in an array of hand-dyed jewel tones!!) + button-up shirt/cardigan/scarf. As far as going out at night, I was almost always in a coed group and never felt threatened or in danger at all.

And there is a whole spectrum for what is “normal” for Jordanian women as well. It is normal to see many women in public wearing hijab though I have other friends who wear capris and T-shirts. Some women are at liberty to go out at night while others are constrained by family matters/traditional culture/other factors.

Have my language skills improved? YES. Class was intense to say the least. 3 hours of class per day + 1 hour of one-on-one tutoring everyday + lots of homework = busy busy! Classes were entirely in Arabic and the material was difficult! We didn’t use Al-Kitaab (and there was much rejoicing…yay…) so instead we used real literary texts and newspaper articles. We read A LOT. And wrote A LOT. At the end of the program I wrote a 8ish page research paper on the relationship between agriculture, desertification, and the water crisis in Jordan (in Arabic, of course) – pretty cool! Reading skills: improved! Writing skills: improved! Listening skills: improved! Speaking skills: kinda improved – excited for hardcore speaking practice with Middlebury! Plus, I basically started from scratch in terms of Jordanian colloquial, and now I can communicate pretty effectively with people on a basic level!

How hot is the Middle East, really? Dry heat is not the same as New England humidity. It hasn’t rained yet! So there were at least a few hot days, but it was almost always comfortable in the shade – it’s the direct sunlight that can be brutal. The nights were really pleasant – sometimes a little chilly and breezy but wonderful overall with minimal mosquitoes!!! Also, Jordan is deserty but not the kind of desert with rolling sand dunes or the Cave of Wonders (thank you, Aladdin…). Picture more rocky and dusty with scattered brush and low-lying shrubs.

September 2nd


Um Qais – B and I went to Um Qais with A and O for a day trip one weekend. Um Qais is in the North and is kinda like a Pompeii. Basically it is a park full of Roman ruins including an amphitheater (no volcano though). It was beautiful – you could easily see the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberius) and rolling hills in the background – gorgeous!

Peter’s Party – one night we (B, O, and I) went to a party at Peter’s apartment. None of us knew Peter directly though we were invited by a mutual friend, “H.” The party was fun, but it was funnier because when we arrived, B and I realized that we knew several of the people there through random connections. One kid from our colloquial class was there, one of the program coordinators from our program was there, one of the researchers living in the program housing was there – so many mutual friends! It was a little crazy to be half-way around the world in a new city and still have so many connections!

RJ office – oh, man. So as the summer was starting to come to a close, B and I had more and more mundane errands to do (job interviews/apartment hunting/plane ticket exchanging/etc) and O was so helpful! He drove us around Amman between our classes and tutoring and helped us navigate some procedures that would have otherwise been “tricky beans.” One day we did a series of errands and then went to the Royal Jordanian main office since I had been charged twice for my ticket to Egypt. That building was no joke like a labyrinth. First – the elevator is locked unless you have a swipey-card (which we got from the visitors’ desk) but it was weird since it wouldn’t always let you select the floor – I dunno! It got weirder though since none of the offices really knew what to do with us – they kept sending us to different floors and different offices. Finally someone sent us to the calling center! Yes – the big room with lots of cubicles where everyone is wearing a headset and talking to customers on the phone (just like on the commercials…). Funny since we weren’t on the phone – we were there in person… Anyway we talked to a guy and got it straightened out. The frosting on the cake was that in the hall with the elevator, there was a padded wall. Hmmm. Liability for people frustrated by the maze of cray-cray running into the wall?

Dead Sea – so one night I was hanging out with B, A, and O and two of A’s other friends, T and C (who are dating) when a couple other friends coincidently drove by. They joined our group and after a little while someone suggested that we drive to the Dead Sea! Awesome! It was pretty late – about 2am, but it was a Friday night so we drove there (it only takes about 45 minutes max) and were able, though an unusual series of events, to find a stretch of beach that was totally devoid of any other human activity. We swam in the Dead Sea under the stars in complete privacy! The sun started to rise there and we drove home to Amman. (P.S. I ultra-clever and packed a LOT of water to rinse off after since that water is so salty that if you don’t rinse off it can be a little uncomfortable).

O’s House – so one night B, A, and I went to O’s house to cook dinner!! His family was out so we had the kitchen to ourselves and made a feast!! I made stuffed grape leaves, spana copita, and baklava with the trusty assistance of Basma, and O made amazing chicken wings in cilantro/lemon sauce! We were happy 🙂

Aqaba – so the whole program went on a group trip to Aqaba during the last weekend of July. What was awesome was that A and O came too under separate reservations in the same hotel! The first night a bunch of us went out to dinner together to a seafood restaurant (you have to when you are on the Red Sea!!) and I got to eat seafood for the first time in a while (you don’t really want to go for seafood in Amman) – delicious! After we went to Tche Tche (it’s a chain here) for the first time where we experienced the most amazing mango smootie basically ever. The next day we went swimming a bit, got another smoothie, and then got dressed up for dinner on a yacht!! The boat was beautiful and the food was good too! We hung out near the stern on this large flat couch/cushioned bench – so luxurious! There was music on the boat so we danced for a while too! Seeing the lights from the shore was beautiful – and we could see Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia on all sides of us! It was really humid there so the heat was worse than in Amman, but it was a fabulous weekend!

Since the end of the program:

→ living with B in her new apartment! She is staying for the year and has a job in Amman teaching English!

→ went on a mini-trip with B to Israel – details to come!

→ getting free wireless from Mecca Mall – yes, Mecca Mall – which is about a ten minute walk from the apartment

→ Ramadan! I decided to fast sometime in the spring before I came and am actually finding it much easier than I anticipated. We eat in the morning at around 4am before sunrise and break fast at around 7ish at sundown.

So I think that makes everything pretty much caught-up. I can’t believe I am leaving for Egypt tomorrow!!!! This summer was fantastic but went by so fast! More updates to come from Alexandria!!! Miss you all!!!!

P.S. My hair is getting pretty long 🙂

Here’s a bit of catch-up!!

Thursday 25th – Sunday 28th = Mini Trip to the South!!!


Class –> left for mini trip by early afternoon!!! The program offers this trip to both the advanced and beginning/intermediate groups but on separate weekends so there were just 15 of us.


First night we camped in the Dana nature reserve in semi-Bedouin style. The reserve is in a huge basin kinda like a mini grand canyon (kinda). When we first arrived at the gate at the top of the basin we had the option of riding down in a truck or walking so I walked down with a few other people (about 2k). When we all got to the bottom we hiked up a mini mountain – pretty intense – just in time to see the beginning of the sunset at the summit! So beautiful! There were other campers there and we all ate at a common dining area – the food was prepared by staff in buffet style and was sooo good! The best thing I remember was this cauliflower dish (I am not normally a huge fan) that was in a delicious creamy sauce! After dinner we all relaxed in a Bedouin tent (not really like a tent, though – shaped like an L with the roof and back covered with fabric but with the other side open + carpets on the ground + cushions lining the back with low tables) and drank really good tea.


The next morning we left after breakfast and headed to Petra. We stopped on the way at a castle that had been captured by Saladin during the Crusades – so cool!! We finally got to Petra and checked into our hotel – NICE hotel. Really nice hotel. We had a little free time = lunch at the buffet (intense dessert bar…) –> POOL!! Then we went to Little Petra as a group (Nabatean structures similar to Petra) and a Neolithic settlement nearby. For dinner we ate at another Bedouin camp – this one was much more legit! Same tent-structure and really really good food! They slow-cooked lamb and chicken in this large oven-thing all day. The door to the oven had been sealed shut and we got to watch them break it open! There was an oud player and some other musicians – too cool. And SOOO many stars!!! It made Brooklyn look like the center of light pollution!


The next day we got an early start and headed to Petra by 8am after a fabulous breakfast at the hotel! We spent all day at Petra. First there was a long walk through fabulous rock formations to the treasury. Then it was a bit further to the city center. We had a private tour with Chris (program coordinator for our program and conveniently an archeologist who is excavating at Petra and is a specialist in Nabytian history). After a long morning in the hot sun, we had lunch at a restaurant from about 1-2pm and then decided to take a long hike up to the monastery – sooooo worth it!! It was a long steep climb up and parts of the path were pretty treacherous! We had to scramble up some slopes and walk along narrow ledges but we made it to the top and it was so great! The scale of the monastery was more impressive than the treasury and a bit past the monastery up another hill was the most fabulous view of the surrounding mountains! There was a sign that pointed towards this little summit that said “View of the End of the World,” or something of that nature in English that was quite amusing. There was also a rest area near the monastery (constructed without a permit) that served coffee, tea, and cold beverages. I was happy it was there since it was about time to stock up on water! The hike down was much easier and we made it back to the hotel by just abut 6pm. It was a long day, but was so worth spending all that time in the heat! We also met ___, a woman who married a Bedouin man after backpacking through Jordan in the 70’s. She was selling copies of her memoirs at Petra and we chatted with her for a short time. That night we ate at a restaurant called Petra Kitchen where we all helped prepare the meal under the instruction of the chefs – really good! All sorts of appetizers, chicken and rice, dessert! After a couple of us went upstairs where the manager of the restaurant also runs a small gift store. All the merchandise is handcrafted in Jordan and is ridiculously expensive. The rest of the night we had off so I headed to the rooftop lounge of the hotel with a couple other people. The weather was beautiful and it was really relaxing.


On Sunday we headed to Wadi Ramm, the desert where they shot “Lawrence of Arabia,” the latest “Transformers,” and “Mars the Red Planet.” It was spectacular. The expanses of sand and rock were on a gargantuan scale and we sped through the desert in rented jeeps! The drivers were experts on driving through the sand and did all sorts of swerves like in the movies!! We stopped for lunch at another Bedouin camp (not sure if that’s where the drivers normally live) and then drove back through the desert to the bus. Then the long ride back to Amman (a good 4 hours or so).


Monday 29th –> normal day of class, tutoring, etc


Tuesday, 30th –> went out at night to a café with several other students and one of our tutors!


Wednesday, July 1st (already??) à concert in downtown Amman at the Roman theater!!! Jordanian rock group (mediocre) + Palestinian hip-hop group (fantastic!!) à stopped at a juice stand on the way home for fresh melon juice – ah, too good…


Thursday, 2nd –> our Friday!! (our weekend is Friday-Saturday). I had tutoring in the afternoon (my roommate and I coordinated our tutoring slots so we had a combined 2-hour session with the same tutor, who takes students out driving in his car). We drove to the outskirts of the city and then dropped off my roommate at a lecture. Then we picked up my tutors friend and the three of us had dinner at a Yemeni restaurant close to the hotel I am living in! The food was really good (all the food here is good!) and the restaurant was really low-key and casual. They dropped me off just in time for me to join a bunch of people who were heading to see Transformers at a theater in one of the larger malls in Amman. The mall was really nice, just like any large mall at home, and the theater was really nice too! The theater had assigned seating, which seemed a little funny to us, so we all bought our tickets together. The movie was pretty poor overall (I had very low expectations) but it was awesome because it featured shots of Petra and Wadi Ramm!!! The shots of Wadi Ramm were supposed to be in Egypt, but it was still so cool to see places we visited on screen!!! The audience clapped at the part in Petra – go Jordan!!!


Friday 3rd –> some homework –> bazzar/market in Amman = fabulous! Everything is really cheap since it is all second hand. The market was huge and had mostly clothing items, but also some food and music/movies! Later is a 4th of July BBQ for the program and later later a few of us are going out to another BBQ with our tutor!! Yay! It will be fun!! Tomorrow will be a homework day!


P.S. These entries are a little disjointed because I type them in Word in our hotel (no internet) and upload them in batches aka now 🙂 Also. Any “a” with an accent mark is supposed to be an –> (doesn’t paste from Word). Later!!!

Day Trips around Jordan!!!

Friday, June 19th

Today we took a day trip to a town called Macaba and to the Dead Sea.

       left early

       stopped at tourist type place (forgot name) with Roman history; could see the dead sea in the distance

       rocky desert


       windy roads

       scattered brush

       went to Macaba

       did touristy things

       saw a orthodox (possibly Greek) baptism while we were looking at a historical church

       went to lunch at a fabulous restaurant! We ate in a courtyard that was covered by a canvassy type of material that kept the heat of the sun off but still allowed light to come in. The ambiance of the restaurant was great! There was a lot of texture created by different materials:

o      stone walls

o      plants/vines

o      wood (shutters)

o      tin lanterns

So the food was brought out one dish after another

– pita type bread but puffed up with air inside

– humus

– tabouli

–  baba ganoush

– fried dudes filled with cheese (yes, cheese!)

– salads

– mushrooms

Then meat –> 2 kinds of lamb and chicken

Plus dessert (gulab jamun esque dough) – so full


The road getting there was intense! It was so windy – at times the curves of the road turned completely around by 180 degrees. And it was a steep decline the whole way down! At times you couldn’t see the road (via the vantage point in the back of the bus) so it almost seemed like the bus was floating/flying down (probably sounds corny). The scenery was so beautiful. The hills were completely made of dry sand and rock with occasional bits of scattered brush. The rock was different colors of tan, orange, and sometimes a reddish-maroon. Overall, everything just looked epic.

Finally we arrived at the Dead Sea!

It was HOT and humid

We went to a part of the beach that was owned by a resort = fancy with lobby on a grand scale with chandeliers, enormous windows, broad curving staircases, pools, slides

Passed all the pools etc and walked down slight slope of sand to the Dead Sea

Water felt normal at first but we floated and it felt a little slimy against our skin! It was so fun to bob around in the water! The water was sooo salty. One kid got the water in his eyes. Not so good.

Mud! It was in certain areas right under the water where you would normally expect sand and was a dark dark green. Everyone slathered it over themselves – it makes your sking sooo smooth!

We were at a resort, so when we were finished salting and mudding –> shade of poolside umbrellas + mango juice!

In summary, the Dead Sea did not disappoint. Basically, imagine what the bottom of the Earth would look like. That’s it. The sea itself is at the bottom of a huge basin and is surrounded by rising hills and mountains. The heat is overwhelming and all that is visible are sand and rocks soaking in the sun. The glistening water is too warm to be refreshing and uninhabitable via the salt. With the oasis of the resort, the setting almost seemed to be an ironic depiction of limbo.


Yesterday (Thursday, June 18th) – general exploring

–> Placement test

–> Food & Food (supermarket type store) –> “Food Food.” They have everything

–> found 3 more hangars in the street.

–> cafe after dinner –> Egypt won against Italy = going to the World Cup again!!!


Monday, June 22nd

Saturday we took another day trip!!! We started by going to downtown Amman where we toured some Roman ruins and then traveled to an area in the north called Ajloun (pretty close to Syria). We stopped for lunch at another fabulous restaurant that offered a spread of food nearly comparable to the restaurant in Macaba. Our real destination was a medieval castle (I believe that it was constructed by Saladin during the Crusades) and other (Roman?) ruins. Ibn Batutta had once visited the castle that we toured!!! The structures were incredible. The whole area is very mountainous and from the castle it was possible to see Syria, Palestine, the Golan Heights, and the Sea of Galilee! Back in the day, networks of signal pyres were used to communicate with distant areas. While we were at the castle, a quasi-traditional band (vocals + percussion) happened to bump into a guy (affiliated with our/another program [we toured with other programs on the same busses]) who had been singing and playing tambourine ALL DAY. We had a concert on the top level of the castle that looked over the surrounding hills and mountains. It was kinda like being in the music video for “Desert Rose.”


Sunday = first day of class!

In the afternoon I went shopping in the local market with two other students – loaded up on cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges, mango, eggplant, hummus, and cheese 🙂

While we were out shopping we stopped into a jewelry store just for fun and got talking to a girl about our age who worked there. We spoke mostly in Arabic (she speaks English) and plan to go back to chat with her again!

Lots of homework!


Today (Monday, June 22nd)

Nothing too special. Went to class, then tutoring, then lunch, then study group, etc. Right now it is wedding season + graduation (University of Jordan is literally down the street + graduation is a multi-day event, as we learned) so the sounds of celebration are audible starting in the afternoon. Right now I can hear some really fun Arabic pop. There are fireworks at least once per night (from wedding parties). The ambiance of the city is incredible. At different times during the day and night the call to prayer echoes everywhere and then I really know that I’m here. The owners of the hotel where I am living are very friendly and often force us to accept candy from the dish on the front desk.

So far I have been to two different cafes – both of which were very nice. They serve food, drinks (non-alcoholic) and sheesha and are great places to hang out with friends and talk. We are hoping to find a favorite where we can hopefully make friends with the regulars and practice our Arabic! We were at one of the cafes a few nights ago and saw a soccer match between Egypt and Italy. When Egypt won everyone there went wild since they are now qualified to go to the World Cup!


More stories to come!

Miss you all!!!!

I’m here!!!

So I have arrived in Amman!!!


Orientation in D.C. was great! Very humid but the city was fun t explore for a few days! Got to do a little sight-seeing/hanging out. The hotel was really nice! The flight from Providence was pretty uneventful and short – but it was kinda cool since we were on an express jet thing that probably had only about 20-30 people!

Traveling to Amman:

– Get to Dulles Airport outside of D.C. at about 3:00 pm on Sunday

–> was checking my bag when they tell me that the program never paid for my ticket = my reservation was cancelled = my seat had been sold to someone else + everything was booked = might not be able to leave on that day with the rest of the group

= bad

but, miraculously, one of the kids on the program had been late getting to the bus that took us to the airport = the program director had called his cell = he had a record of her number = I was able to call her

–> after waiting for the airport people to talk to the travel agent, everything was finally worked out (I got to fly on the same flight as the rest of the group) but I had to wait to get a seat assignment

–> got a seat in the very back of the plane (separated for basically everyone on the group = okay but a little lonely/isolated) left the airport at about 6:30 pm

–> Six hour flight (got to see The Reader and some of He’s Not That Into You)!!

–> Heathrow @ 6:00 am (with time zones)

–> 8.5 hour layover in the airport!! Got real fish and chips from England!!! Fabulous accents!

–> 5 hour flight to Amman

–> visas, bags, security

–> bus

–> The Bateel Hotel (with advanced level students) = fabulous!!! The owner’s little son greeted us at the door with roses and baklava!!! I share a nice apartment with 3 other girls including a Smithie (small world, right?)!!! (We are responsible for most of our own cooking and we have already started to stock up on pita and other fabulous items!!!)

–> mini orientation meeting at nearby facility where the other students are staying (two buildings up the hill)

–> Bed. Finally. At around midnight or 12:20!

First official day in Amman!!!

Lots of orientation

Some time to explore during the late afternoon!!

The weather is hot, but it is a dry heat and there is a near constant breeze so it is comfortable in the shade and not too bad in the sun ( I know it’s only June, but I remain optimistic that the weather won’t get too too bad!!!). The city has a lot of character! It is very hilly and there are tons of small little shops. There aren’t really sidewalks and there’s quite a bit of litter on the ground but it is really cool to be in a place that is so different from the US!

Sometimes I feel like I really stick out as a foreigner/American, but there’s not too much to do about it! It’s really awkward speaking to Jordanians since I don’t know any Jordanian dialect and have to rely on Modern Standard (which I’m not fluent in anyway!).

Day 2 (Happy 1/2 Birthday to me and Paden!!)

Today we had a placement test and afterward I went to a little restaurant for falafel with a couple other students. It was really good! It was funny since they make the sandwiches in a line that resembles Subway! I took a taxi (first time here) with a few people and we got dropped off near the hotel (taxi drivers operate via landmarks – not street addresses) and on the walk back to the hotel my roommate and I found some hangars on the ground – perfect since we had planned on buying some (I know this is probs a little sketchy BUT a) we needed them b) we washed them c) recycling, right?)!!!

More details to come later!!!