Gallery: King Abdullah I Mosque

Yesterday, CIEE organized a trip for us to visit the King Abdullah I Mosque near where I used to live in Weibdeh!  I have driven past this huge and beautiful mosque many times, and I was so excited to finally go inside and see how beautiful it is.  This is the only mosque in Jordan that is open to tourists and visitors, so I’m really glad that I got to visit it with a group and learn a lot about it.

It was built in the 1980s, and the dome is covered in beautiful blue mosaics that sparkle in the sun.  It can house up to 3,000 Muslims for prayer at a time, and is one of the biggest mosques in Jordan.

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I am happy to formally announce that this semester I am interning at ACOR, the American Center for Oriental Research!

My first day at ACOR was September 18th, after the Eid break, but I haven’t had time to write about it until just now.  I absolutely love interning there, since my project is fun and interesting and the people I get to meet are impressive and teach me a lot of very fascinating things about their research and about Jordan.  ACOR provides fellowships for PhD candidates doing research in Jordan, as well as for senior faculty (mostly from America, but some from other countries or with dual citizenship) whose work brings them to Jordan.  Each of these fellows lives at ACOR in the upper levels, which are a sort of academics-only hostel.

I don’t get paid, but I get a free, fresh-cooked lunch on the days that I work.  ACOR is also a wonderfully quiet and organized library (along with a historic map collection that I’m still dying to check out) that really satisfies my inner introvert’s need for quiet, focused work twice a week.  At lunch, I get the incredible opportunity to rub elbows with these esteemed fellows, as well as with the senior leadership of ACOR, and the conversations always leave me Googling new things to do in Amman, various research terminology, and history lessons.

My project is to help reorganize and, in some cases, redesign ACOR’s website, which has just switched to WordPress – making me quite glad I spent all summer tinkering with this WordPress blog and becoming literate with its program.  It is a fun project, just challenging enough to keep me engaged for hours, but not so challenging that I can’t make any progress.  If  you want to learn more about ACOR, check out the website here!

I am so glad that I got this internship, and can’t wait to see what it brings throughout the semester.  Stay tuned for updates!


The Move

Fortunately and unfortunately, I live in an apartment now.

After a week with bed bugs at our homestay, we moved temporarily to an apartment while Ester’s room was fumigated, and decided to stay permanently.

It is really sad for me to give up living with a host family, which is one of the things I was looking forward to most about studying abroad – especially after having such an amazing experience with my host family in Europe.  I am still bummed and upset that our experience with them had to end.  Furthermore, moving was very stressful and kept me up late at night all week, trying to clean, organize, and really move in.

However, apartment life so far has many upsides, like more independence, quiet, and control over cleaning and schedules.  It is also nice to have a space that I can at least somewhat make my own throughout the semester – and a washing machine to do my own laundry.  I also am really enjoying being able to cook for myself again, since there aren’t that many healthy options available in Amman.  Now that I am more settled in, these benefits are really starting to make me feel better.

We also had to say a sad goodbye to LWeibdeh – our beloved, walkable, artsy neighborhood full of cafes, students, and great restaurants, a place I already dearly miss.  We also had to give up our perfect morning taxi carpool with our neighbors, Michaela and Phoebe.  But, in return, we are getting to know a whole new part of the city (Third Circle) and new people – all our apartment neighbors are other CIEE students, who also make for a nice (and cheap) carpool.

I think that moving to an apartment will, in the long run, prove to be the best decision for my health and my experience here in Jordan, even though it is a sad and upsetting occasion.  More updates on life in Jordan to come.

Stargazing & Sunrise-Chasing: Wadi Rum

After Petra, the next stop on our trip last weekend was Wadi Rum, a beautiful area of Jordan’s southwestern deserts, known as the famous site for many films (The Martian, Lawrence of Arabia, etc.).  We camped at a Bedouin campsite for the night, and had a full night and day of truly incredible desert activities.

Thursday, September 22nd

After we arrived late to the bus at Petra (read about that here), we rode for just a couple hours to Wadi Rum, an area with no really obvious beginning but you know when you’re there.  We drove to Captains’ Desert Camp, a touristic Bedouin-style campsite nestled between huge sandstone rocks, where we would camp for the night and join activities in the morning.

Captains’ Desert Camp

As soon as we arrived, we all paired off into tents, which were made of heavy goat hair and had three single beds – only two of which had mosquito nets.  There was one little light and a table – not much to see – so we put our bags down and went back outside where the real beauty is.  The rocks that the camp is nestled between make it feel like you are anchored to the last steady refuge in an endless sea of sand and stone cliffs that rise and fall in the distance.

Sunrise at the camp

The camp itself was very cool – huge goat hair tents and rugs covered the large gathering & eating area, where we enjoyed traditional Bedouin sweet tea by the fire and then a huge dinner of makloubeh with delicious thin, salty pita bread.  After dinner there was dancing – dabkeh, a Jordanian tradition – with Bedouin instruments and singing.Read More »

Wonder of the World: Petra

This past weekend I took the trip of a lifetime to the amazing, ancient, stone-carved Lost City of Petra in southwest Jordan.  It was breathtakingly gorgeous and seemingly incomprehensible in its existence, and the whole weekend made me feel like one little kid, wandering around wonder-struck in one huge sandbox.  I’ll write here about all the stuff I saw and did there – including running and climbing up cliffs over ravines, riding a donkey up and down a mountain, and running some really miserable miles through the desert.

So I have now seen 2 out of the 7 new Wonders of the World – Petra and the Coliseum in Rome!  And by the end of October, I will have also seen the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World – the pyramids at Giza.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Our trip started bright and early on Thursday with a taxi ride from our neighborhood to our study center, where we met our program and got on a big coach bus together.  We rode about 4 hours southwest of Amman down the Desert Highway to Petra, where we all slathered on some sunscreen, grabbed our hats and scarves and walked down to the entrance.  After obtaining our tickets (50 JD for tourists, but just 1 JD for Jordanian citizens!) we began the long, winding downhill walk through the desert, surrounded on either side by huge walls of stone.  The Nabateans ingenious methods of controlling and storing the little water they received all year from rain allowed them to become a prosperous and successful society, almost an artificial oasis in the middle of the Jordanian desert – known to them as Raqmu.  We saw their dams, cisterns, and other means of controlling water throughout our day.

To get to the Lost City, you first have to walk miles down through a steep and twisting 2016-09-22-12-25-28natural gorge in the sandstone, known as the Siq (the shaft) which in some places the Nabateans had even paved with cobblestone.  Horse drawn carriages take some people all the way from the visitor’s center down through the Siq to the Treasury, but it was an incredible and jaw-dropping walk filled with the beautiful scenery of ever-changing rose rock colors and occasionally, ancient carvings in the rock.

But the real shock comes when you Read More »