Things I’ve Noticed About Jordan….Surface Level

  • Taxi Drivers love HONKING at tourists. No matter where I’m walking, taxi drivers will always honk at me to see if I want a ride. 
  • Jordanians are very blunt and not “politically correct.” They make jokes about things such as Saddam Hussein, Trump’s hair looking like “knafeh,” and unfortunately, Hitler. This also means that regrettably, our students of color have received some unwanted attention in racist manners that haven’t been dealt with as they would have in the US.
For reference, Knafeh 🙂
  • (Side note: in some cars, people have pictures of Saddam Hussein hanging from the rearview window)
  • Everyone here has direct roots to Palestine.
  • Despite being a “modern city,” most women here cover their heads.
  • In class, we grade each other’s quizzes and get ranked in front of each other.
  • Despite being a conservative society, Jordanians are very touchy with each other. For example, it’s not uncommon to see two men holding hands or interlocking arms. Women also often walk arm in arm. I’ve noticed with my language partner that instead of just laughing, she often touches my leg or arm when laughing. In general, the sense of “personal space” also greatly differs.
  • There is security EVERYWHERE. At the entrance to the hotel, malls, and grocery stores, we are always required to walk through a metal detector and show our bags. Additionally, police can pull over cars just to check identity. I have not snapped pictures of these set ups for obvious reasons…
  • DRIVING. When I say that driving is crazy in Amman, I mean that it is CRAZY! Three cars to a lane without dividing marks, inches in between cars when parking, no turn signals, random u-turns in the middle of two lanes, no seat belts, 3-point turns whenever convenient, hardly any stop lights. My old driver’s ed teacher would have a heart attack. However, I’ve seen very few crashes. Most people here would score 100% on a defensive driving test.
  • Bargaining, but less so than in Morocco. Usually you can get a price down by ⅓, however in Morocco, sometimes the price would be exacerbated by 80%.
  • The King and Prince have their pictures hanging up in every mall, restaurant, hotel, ice cream shop, etc.
  • Immense Generosity. This is perhaps one of my favorite things about Jordan that I probably can’t explain in words because it is more of a reverence that I feel for the people I have met. For example, as Americans, I feel like we are trained to be suspicious of a taxi driver offering us to eat a meal with his family after a conversation in a cab. “Stranger Danger!” However, most of the time, people in Jordan are being GENEROUS. They greatly value friendship and relationships, and even more so when Americans are trying to learn their language. I also experienced this phenomena when going to a Bazaar hosted by the UNHCR. I met a painter who currently lives in the ZAATARI Refugee camp, and we spoke about art, I showed him some pictures of Ceci’s work, and we practiced my Arabic. Afterwards, he gave me one of his paintings, free of charge. I was amazed at how a Syrian refugee living in a refugee camp offered me, an American, a free piece of his work. The generosity of Arab people befuddles and amazes me, but also provides me a model for how I hope to treat people in the world. you can follow him on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009569268377 or look at his pieces on Instagram at @mohamad_jokhadar
The painting the artist gave me. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @MohamadJokhada1
  • Cat-Calling. Compared to Morocco (and even the US), I would say that the sexual harassment is incredibly low. I’ve never felt intensely annoyed or aggravated when walking alone or with others. There was a funny instance in the equivalent of a Jordanian flea market where several teenage boys wanted pictures with me to post on their Snapchats because I was American and “cool,” but other than this, I feel like I have received minimal attention from males. I have not even had to whip out the fake engagement ring! 

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