Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Amman the beautiful

After a very long 16 hours worth of traveling, I'm happy to say that I've made it safe and sound here in Amman. Although I got zero hours of sleep, it was a decently smooth trip.

To recap:

I arrived in Paris around 8 am their time, 2 am US time - although early, it was great timing because we flew right over the city, so I got a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower and what not. However, when I got off the plane I got a bit turned around and wound up lost in the airport for a solid 30 - typical American tourist in France. But I finally made my way to my gate where I enjoyed a lovely rasberry filled croissant and the best cappaccino I've ever had. Gotta hand it to the French....they sure have some good food!

The flight from Paris to Amman was shorter but somehow seemed longer. I was too excited and hopped up on caffeine to sleep but so exhausted at the same time. I sat next to a nice Jordanian man who gave me all sorts of good tips of places to go and things to eat though, so that was a plus.

But finally, 4 hours later, we landed in Amman! It was about 8 pm their time (1 pm US time) and already dark so it was hard to see much from the sky. I was a bit worried about the airport situation and terrified that my bags wouldn't be there but luckily I had no problems. I exchanged my US money for Jordanian Dinars, bought a visa, gathered my 100+ lbs of luggage, & finally found my group. Lucky for me some of the program coordinators came to meet us at the airport so I didn't have to mess with catching a cab and what not.

I met some other students and we got onto a bus which took us to the hotel I am staying in until Thursday when I will then move in with my host family. I was too tired to do much, so I hit the hay and called it a night.

Today - my first real day in Amman - was like a dream. I woke up this morning to the call to prayer, which is blasted over speakers 5 times a day from these giant tall tower things. Although 5 am was a little early to be woken up, I can't describe how beautiful it was to hear.

We then spent the day exploring the city while getting to know the other students. In short: Amman is absolutely beautiful. The buildings are all nestled on hills, so you can see the city at almost all angles. We walked around downtown all afternoon on the city's main street Rainbow Road - an insanely busy street filled with little shops, restaurants, and cafes - while playing Frogger through the streets with all the insane cab drivers.

We saw some amazing views of the city and had shwarama for lunch which is a standard Jordanian dish - a pita wrap filled with meats, veggies, potatoes, & some sort of sauce - it. was. delicious. Served up with some fries and a coke! Yum.

At the end of the tour we stumbled upon an ancient Roman ampitheatre so we stopped and checked it out. It was built on a hill so it was extremely steep. Nonetheless, we made it to the top and managed to snap some more good pictures.

We had a great dinner tonight too downtown, but I think I've blabbed on enough for this post and I'm exhausted. Some pictures from the day are below! Tomorrow we'll do some more school related things and hopefully do some more exploring.

I'm hoping to master the whole cab thing this week. In'sha'allah! (God willing)


One of the towers that projects the call to prayer


They were adament about taking a picture with me...I blame the blonde hair.

Roman ampitheatre - very steep

I love the views

So pretty!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Today is the day!

....and a very long day at that. Luckily for me, Hurricane Irene doesn't affect the Midwest town of Cincinnati Ohio, so my flight is right on time.

I'm set to fly out of Ohio at 5:45 p for an 8 hour flight to Paris. Unfortunately during that 8 hour flight I completely forgo night time, as I am landing in Paris at 7:55 am. Translation: no sleep for Ali. Once in Paris, I have 6 hours to kill in the airport (how early is too early to have a glass of wine?) then I board another 4 1/2 hour flight, landing in Amman at 7:30 pm.

It's sure to be a very long, long day so think of me fondly as I will be lugging around two 50 lb suitcases, a backpack, camera, and purse for the better part of tonight.

I will then spend 3 days at a hotel for orientation and then will finally be moving in with my host family on Thursday.

Exciting week ahead! Thank you for everyone's love and support.

One last shout out to America ....I think I'll miss you the most.


Monday, August 22, 2011

One Week!

7 days. Woah.

I can't believe I will be flying across the world one week from today. I've been waiting and planning for so long that I've almost felt like leaving would never come, so being able to count on two hands the amount of days left in the good ole U.S of A is somewhat surreal.

I've spent the past couple weeks gathering the last of things needed for my trip and have just a couple minor last minute things to do. However, its sure to be a whirlwind of a week. Lots of goodbyes to give and packing to do.

As the time nears, a lot of people have been asking if I'm getting nervous or if I'm at all scared to travel such an unstable region, and well, I have to say... I'm really not. The idea of doing a cultural 180 should unnerve me, but it really doesn't. I'm excited to take on a new challenge and hope that my trip will only be the start to many more travels to come.

The only thing that does make me a bit nervous, however, is the shock of it all. By that I mean, the shock that I will actually be there. Like I said before, I feel like I've been planning and waiting forever and while I know I leave in 7 days, it still hasn't hit me. It probably doesn't help that I'm currently writing this blog on a porch overlooking the ocean in Florida, which isn't exactly helpful in trying to mentally prepare for living in a completely different culture. Oh well. I'd like to at least think the tan I've been working on will help me blend in better? (Cue laugh.....now.) Yeah, you're right, probably not. My reddish color isn't exactly native. Although, I am 1/16th Native American, so there's hope.

Anyways, I may be leaving in 7 days but I still have a 5 year old named John to attend to, and right now pirates are his thing and I'm being beckoned to play Pirates of the Caribbean.

A Middle East traveling, Arabic speaking, blonde sorority girl, who spends the better part of her time playing pirates and dinosaurs with a 5 year old..... now there's a first.