Immersed in Amman


root: غ-م-س / verbal noun of form VII / definition: immersion

There must be something in the air in Amman that is infusing me with wakefulness—after walking around downtown Amman late last night, having an almost-all-nighter in our apartment, and sitting through intense classes from 9am-3:30pm today, I really should be more tired at this point. But I feel wide awake and—surprisingly—not stressed or suffering from culture shock!

And it only took one day here in Jordan for me to actually see the importance of linguistic immersion first-hand, because within my first 24 hours in Amman, I spoke Arabic to:

  • the airport staff, including the ones who question you at passport control
  • the security guard (who for some reason asked me about my ethnicity, which is probably the most common question I’ve been asked in my time here so far) and cashier at the supermarket
  • an Uber driver on the phone, and then in the car after we got lost and couldn’t find our apartment building—the getting lost bit was actually the best part because it sparked a whole conversation and gave us more time to talk
  • a very nice shop assistant (when I told him I accidently broke something in the store—oops!—and I then proceeded to get lost on the walk back home and Google Maps was of little avail seeing as I had temporarily forgotten the name of our street)
  • a delivery driver on the phone after we ordered food for the dinner party for our class of five (the Arabic phone conversations were particularly satisfying seeing as I can hardly bear the thought of speaking on the phone in my native language)

And since then, I’ve had many more interactions in Arabic—none of which have been particularly embarrassing or stressful which is hugely reassuring. And I think, possibly naively, that I may have passed as a native Arabic speaker in one or two of those interactions (obviously, the short ones).

The WiFi in our apartment has been fixed now so I could write for much longer on here about all the cool things I’ve seen and experienced here in Amman, but we’ll have to save it for another day because I have a decent amount of homework to get done for tonight—الإعراب and الترجمة—and it’s already around midnight!

But stay tuned for more Amman/Jordan content and, of course, all things Arabic-related, إلى اللقاء!

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