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Jon: Rainbow Street

September 9, 2011

After a pathetically hard time with no internet for a few days we finally got the internet set up in our apartment in Shmeisani, Amman. I’ll upload some photos soon but the apartment is magnificent. We have in an open area a dining room, living room, tv room with a patio attached. There are three of us here, and each have our own room. One has two full beds pushed together and his own bathroom, I have two twins pushed together and a patio (although I can’t go out onto it because we weren’t given the key to it), and another decent room. Plus a big kitchen with a patio as well. It’s been a few days without a blog so I’ll try to catch up but I’m going to start with the most recent while it is still fresh. We started the day by meeting at the University of Jordan for the first time for a tour of the campus and then a tour of the CIEE office. We received some academic orientation and a security briefing which was all very tiring by the end. This brings me to one of the first and biggest philosophical issues I’ve really encountered. I have no large desire to drink or party hard here in Jordan as some young Jordanian students do. They are definitely the more liberal generation and are pushing the boundaries, some of which I very much respect and privately agree with. And that is part of the culture. HOWEVER, as an American even if I agree with the change I do not believe it is my position to encourage or participate in that movement. Even if it is promoting what I believe to be good feminist change, or good sexual freedom, if I choose to interfere I am no better than Bush or anyone else who alters the course of another culture. Not to geek it up but I am constantly reminded of Star Treks Prime Directive of not interfering in another’s culture even if I think it is for good.

Continuing on, a group of us went to a restaurant tonight and enjoyed dinner as well as some sheesha. I’m trying all the flavors but as of now double apple is still my favorite. There we met a group of Americans from another study abroad program who were in similar positions to us, which was nice to chat for a while. The only other thing worth mentioning though was the last thing that happened. We were going to end our night when we came across yet another group of American students who were wanting to go to a club. We walked with them for a bit but then came across a club that was quite fancy. About to split ways the boys came back and asked if the two girls with us would come in with them as the bouncer wouldn’t let just guys in (us two guys were invited as well) so we decided to go in for a short bit. Quickly, I and a few of the other guys realized we needed to get out of there. Upstairs where the “club/party” was, there was a hallway lined with doors marked “private” and saw a man come out, grab an ash tray and go back in. It was pretty obvious what we had stumbled on to especially when my friends who hadn’t gone upstairs were told us guys needed to come down “there are just bathrooms up there”… No. Those were not bathrooms. And to prove it a couple right after us went upstairs. Well I guess I had my first experience with a Jordanian brothel.

Please don’t let that last experience taint your view. These past few days we have been filled with very friendly polite Jordanians. While we do get stares everywhere we go, both because of our nationality and how “badly” we dress in comparison, but I have never felt unsafe or scared.

So in case you haven’t figured it out yet I’m not the best blogger so as I’m tired here are some last few random things.

  • Girls are stared at here… a lot. Catcalls are kept to a minimum as far as out right sounds but professions of love and marriage seem to be common.
  • The views are amazing. King Hussein (the first king of Jordan) ruled that all buildings in Amman must be made from limestone so they are all be the same color. As well the whole city is built on hills and every square plot basically has a building on it. Lastly the city is huge, and when I say huge I mean buildings go on for as far as the eye can see, and that is far. So in the view you can see hills and hills of buildings.
  • Pictures cannot even begin to capture and convey the awesomeness of the view of these buildings.
  • Secret police. Although we are sure we are being told larger numbers to scare us, we were informed 1 in every 100 people is a secret police. They are under strict laws though so this is viewed as good and safe here.
  • Everyone knows everyone, and everyone talks. Period. Our CIEE director knew some kids had brought alcohol into a building that same night because people in the area called people who called people who called her.
  • Jordanians do not recycle but they have an impressive cleaning crew so there is very little litter actually on the ground. FYI, 2/3 of Jordanians work for the government.
  • This is one of my most favorite facts I learned: The US has the same economic disparity as Jordan.
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