S. Gabbara

This blog recounts my travels while studying Arabic language in Amman, Jordan. All photography by me or on my camera unless otherwise stated.

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The Last Post

Okay done bye!

….I almost feel like just not writing this but I need closure for myself too. This post is my official goodbye to Jordan, and to this blog, and to all the friends I have made abroad. After being back in America for about 2 weeks, I feel ready to evaluate how my experiences in Jordan changed my life.

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Honestly, there is not too much to say. I felt like saying “يالله باي!” to Jordan so many times when I was frustrated at things like harassment or not being able to be completely independent there, but in the end I am so grateful for the experiences I have had and the beautiful friendships I have made. I sincerely believe I will be coming back here in the future, if only to say hello to my host family and gym friends and university friends! <3 And I definitely hope to see my friends in America as well! All you DC people (;

Being abroad made me especially appreciate the

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Spring Break in Sri Lanka!

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Hi Buddha!! This guy is chilling at the bottom of Adam’s Peak.

I have had a few people ask me to write about my Spring Break in Sri Lanka. I literally have about a week left in Amman, and it’s finals week… don’t even ask me how I have time to write this lol!!

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Yellah bye Urdon!

The idea to go to Sri Lanka was planted in my mind last semester during finals week when A. heard from a CIEE employee that tickets to Sri Lanka were pretty cheap. A quick search revealed they were less than $500 round-trip from Amman, which is comparable to Europe! After convincing a whole host other friends to come along, we had a full group and bought tickets. Whoo! That was really exhilarating…. but then we had to actually plan out our trip because you can’t go to Sri Lanka and just stay in one city. Thankfully, everything worked out in the end, and our vacay was so perfect! Sri Lanka is literally

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Making the most of our time abroad: little trips and big trips!

I have wanted to write this post for a long, long time! I fell behind on the blogging a bit because of school, of course. Also, I am in my final two weeks in Amman… which is just unreal to me! I am so ready to go home, but I know I am going to leave wishing I had done more.

I like lists to plan out my goals, so I was semi-following the list of “99 things to do in Amman” from the Jordan Tourism Board. Follow this link to check it out: http://visitjordan.com/99things/ . I have done about 45/99 and there are a few more things I would like to check off the list.

But honestly, activities are never as important as the people you are doing them with! <3 I am really sad that I will be leaving so many of the people I have gotten close to here in Amman - both Americans and Jordanians! Special shoutout to my girls A. and A.!(; and to my fav gym instructors D., M. and S.! In these last 2 weeks

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The Rural Retreat Part II: Wadi Rum and Petra

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Desert dreaming.

Friday February 27: Off to Wadi Rum (and one of the most incredible days of my life!)

My time in Wadi Rum and Petra deserve a post on their own separate of the rest of the retreat because they were such unbelievably amazing days in themselves!

Our day in Wadi Rum was particularly special because our group really got to solidify our bonding experiences with each other. The feelings I experienced in the desert cannot be conveyed with just words. Wadi Rum is so vast and dry and the mountainous rocks are cratered up like the moon.

We had to leave early in the morning from Sharbil bin Hassneh Ecopark on Friday morning because the trip to Wadi Rum is actually a full 5 hours by bus! We got to Wadi Rum around lunchtime, but we had to wait a bit to eat because we actually got a surprise lunch hiding out in the middle of the desert!! I think food was so good because it was

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The Rural Retreat (Khalwa) Part I: Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark

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This photo from my now deceased iPhone can give you an idea of how close the park is to the Syrian and Northern border with Israel!

I mentioned the CIEE Arabic Language program’s semester retreat in my last post, but at that point even I had no idea what was in store!! What I was told about the retreat beforehand was that it is a one-week long immersion opportunity in a rural area of Jordan with our program directors. I knew that last semester’s AL group spent most of the week in Shobak, which is south of Jordan, but it turned out that my program would be going to Sharhabil bin Hassneh Ecopark in the north, which I actually went to last semester with the DPS program (and really did not enjoy last semester!).

Thankfully, our experiences at the park turned out amazing this time! The park was so green and pretty during this time of the year, and our program directors took into account

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Amman Shenanigans!

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Me at the murals again!

I have previously mentioned this, but my current program in Amman is supposed to be 100% in Arabic….and I just realized that it is going to be quite a bit of studying for me! While I am struggling to keep the language commitment everyday, I am banking on rapid improvement as long as I keep working hard! Also, it definitely helps that all of my classes are in Arabic so that basically every new thing I learn helps me in my overall language acquisition and improvement. Anyway, the amazing ladies in my program have really kept me going happy(: Here are some of the things we have been up to in the past few weeks!

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A. putting her hand over the painted handprint. The Arabic says “from fear to freedom” which is a common theme in these pro-feminist works.

Bonding with the girls in our second weekend in Amman

King Abdullah Gardens - حدائق ملك عبد الله
I live near the

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Guess who’s back in Amman?!

Well, duh, it’s me!(;
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This is the Amman skyline from the Citadel with and view of the super tall flagpole!

So after a lovely month of lazing around my aunt’s cozy house and being fed as much chocolate as I could have ever wanted, I am back in Amman for my second semester here [and last semester of undergrad!!]. Here is how the remainder of my time in England went and my first week in Amman!

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Swans in London to brighten up a freezing, cloudy day!

I spent a few days in London before I left England, which was definitely worth my time. Although, the cold still kills! My toes would literally still be freezing in my waterproof boots and extra-warm socks!

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J. in front of Abraham Lincoln. Also, why is Abraham Lincoln in London?

On one day in London, I was able to meet with my friend J. who is also studying for the year with CIEE Amman. It was really nice to see him in his element here

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Happy New Year from England!

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In front of Harrod’s Winter Wonderland in London.

This has been quite a holiday season! I have been busy not being busy, mostly doing Christmas shopping with my aunt and cooking and baking up yummy treats. We don’t do too much which is in complete contrast to ourselves during the work week/school year!

I am extremely excited for this new year. 2014 was an amazing year - I had my ceremonial graduation, was an RA during the summer, and I have officially been to 4 more countries than in 2013! [i.e. Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and England!]. I’ve made so many great friends and learned a lot more about life and myself. That being said, 2015 is going to force me to choose a career [or at least a temporary job] because I have to officially leave school and make my way out in the real world!

Here are my goals for 2015. What are your goals? I think goals are important not because they

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The first half is over…

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Me with straight hair for the first time in months!

It is a few days before Christmas… which I am spending out in the English countryside with family. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe my first semester in Jordan is already over. It went so fast, although that final month was certainly the hardest. Besides roommate issues and preparing well for my finals, I was caught up with lovely final Christmas events. I suppose it all paid off in the end! I improved a full 22 points out of 100 on my Arabic placement test - which actually placed me at having completed 6 semesters instead of the 5 I have actually completed. Wow.

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Christmas at the Boulevard in Al Abdali with H.

As you can imagine, I am so ready for next semester’s 100% Arabic immersion format! However, in England I am currently in a 100% English format! It will be weird to go back for way more reasons than this though!

I love

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What am I doing next?!

The Fall 2014 semester is not quite over - but I am already looking forward to the next part of my life. I don’t tend to think in the future all the time, but I have been recently because my time in Amman will be over before I know it! As my friends and family already know, I am spending my next semester in Amman on the CIEE Arabic Language program. I am so excited and so scared for this program because it is immersion style - meaning 100% Arabic teaching! I’m ready to push past my Arabic language barriers and hopefully start blending in as a local! Wish me luck!

However, more imminently approaching is the winter break! Whoo! This break from school (and Amman!) will be much-needed. I am headed to England where I will spend half my break in the countryside with family and the other half in London. This will be my first time in Europe, and my first Christmas not spent in San Diego with

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