Winter is coming in Amman: Part II

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M. and I. She has been such a great friend during my time in Jordan.

This is part II of my update on life post. I honestly feel like my life has been a blur that I can’t even keep up with. It’s always hard for me to tell how much of my life I should try to control and what I should just leave be, but recently I have needed more control. I need to work-out and sleep and study more as we head into the final month of classes. Additionally, I have been thinking about my life after I officially graduate and it is quite scary!! I hope I can find a job internationally, but I might also be ready to come back to America at that point. I have almost a year to figure this out though, so I would rather not worry now…

Anyway, this weekend has been quite different! I just got back from Zarqa today. I was staying with my friend L. and his relatives who live there. I will talk more about this trip in my next post. The following is my life until this weekend basically. Also, in case you were wondering about the title, it is getting super cold in Amman!! I am afraid that a real desert winter will be harsh, and I still need wool socks before my toes fall off. Wish me luck on finding them!

Water Politics Trip
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In this photo, you can see past the Syrian border. I enjoyed the beauty, greenery and peace of the mountains connecting Syria and Jordan, especially considering that Syria is the site of so much conflict right now.

The weekend after Eid, CIEE took us on a “water politics” trip. I actually wrote about this trip for the CIEE Diplomacy and Policy Studies (my program) blog in much more detail than I will write here. The CIEE blog also has some more photos of us students, the military men and the scenery. You can find the blog here:
http://study-abroad-blog-amman-dps.ciee.org/
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From the ancient city of Gadara (currently Umm Qais in Irbid, Jordan). This is where Jordan and Israel border. In this photo, you can see the Sea of Galilee and apparently Nazareth was in the far left (I think it is too blurry to see here though).

This was a cool trip, but it also lasted way too long. It spanned a total of 3 days and much of it was honestly wasted time for which I did not bring homework to fill.

We started the trip with some historical site visits. With the Jordanian military as our hosts, we visited a viewing area of the northern border with Israel and another viewing area of the border with Syria. We stopped for lunch at the ancient Roman city of Gadara, where you can see the Sea of Galilee and some biblical cities Israel.

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Me at the top of Gadara. Check out those ruins!!

Apparently, Gadara has the ruins of the only known octagonal church known! You can’t really tell that it is a church though….
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The ruins of the only known octagonal church in the ancient city of Gadara.

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My friends at the top of the theatre. This looks like the scene of an action movie!

After the historical visits, we went to the actual Sheik Hussein border crossing and got to speak to the border guards. We ended up at Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark which is where we stayed for the next few days. The ecopark was different because they recycled and composted, but there wasn’t much to do there especially because there was no internet! It felt very good to be disconnected for that time, and I have since made an effort to not feel dependent on wifi (except for school, etc.). I watched the stars with friends both nights I was there which was actually quite nice.

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This is the dam at the ecopark. We walked on the gorgeous hiking trail that wraps up and around the mountain.

The trip ended on the last day with the slaughtering of two sheep which were used to make mensaaf, the Jordanian national dish of stewed lamb served on rice and drenched in yogurt. Needless to say, I did not participate in this “local food experience” (as it was labeled) and I was really quite offended by the people who insisted on describing the experience to me. It feels the same to me when people make jokes about eating meat when they know I would never eat any meat. It’s like making rape jokes - they just aren’t funny.

While I was glad I got to go on this trip, it lasted far too long for my taste. I was itching to get back to the city and back to the reality of my life. But if you guessed from this blog, my life is literally just a series of weekends. Nothing ever happens on the weekdays except school and work!

Biblical Jordan Trip
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The Church of John the Baptist.

On October 24, I went on a CIEE-arranged trip to see the biblical sites of Jordan. I chose this trip over the other CIEE trips to the Dead Sea and the desert cycling excursion because I was hoping to see a lot of history! This trip definitely did not disappoint. We went to biblical sites like Mount Nebo, the baptism spot of Jesus, and the Jordan river. There were many churches and great mosaics. I forgot the names of many of the places we went or else I would list them here! Anyway, check out the cool photos below.

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Inside a cave.

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Inside a church. Apparently, a total of 14 churches have been built in the last 10 years because King Abdullah II of Jordan declared it okay for Christians to worship on the Holy Land. The ones I saw have colorful Bible images all over the walls, such as here.

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Israel is on the other side of the Jordan River from us in this photo. There was a tour group of seniors getting baptized in the water when we were there!

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Our tour guide gave a mini presentation on the differences in Muslim and Christian headscarves for women. My friend M. was the model, pictured here.

Jerash Trip

Just last weekend, me and some friends headed out to Jerash, a town north of Amman that is known for its very well preserved Roman ruins. While the ruins themselves were great, the trip getting to Jerash angered me because my friends and I were ripped off on the bus there (as I discussed in my last post). It gets really frustrating to always be treated like a foreigner here.

Jerash has some great ruins. Also more tourists than I have seen in most of Jordan! I am not sure how I feel about tourists, because while I realize that tourism is great for the Jordan economy, I hate being treated like one of many in these touristic places.

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Jerash is an entire ancient city. We spent many hours just climbing over rocks and taking photos. After a while, everything starts to look the same, no matter how impressive of a ruin it is! Here is my Jerash experience in photos.
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Discovering pretty mosaics!

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I believe this was a church. You can clearly see the iron cross in the middle.

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M. and I at the Oval Plaza. It is massive!

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M. and I jumping for joy at the South Gate.

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And finally, this guy with the bagpipes. He made no sense by performing at Jerash, but it was great entertainment nevertheless!

As I mentioned earlier, the final month of classes is beginning! I want to pull through and do it mindfully! For the month following the Eid break, I was not caring for myself or others. It was really depressing to realize what I was doing to myself. My goal for this last month is to get back on track on eating healthy, sleeping regularly, and start exercising again! Also I want to do well in my courses because I have received worse grades in my courses here in Amman than I ever have at UC Berkeley! The teachers in Jordan are much harder graders than teachers in America (as noted by CIEE, not just my personal experience).

Wish me luck on this last month before the winter break! And expect a few more regular posts from me!(:

With hope and love,
Shimmy

 
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