Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Getting Ready for Some Serious Travel

So we're leaving the hotel here in DC in exactly 13 minutes. They're very prompt. We'll be flying to Frankfurt, and then to Amman. This takes three days. It's Wednesday, and we get on a plane tonight. But then, we don't get to Amman until Friday, so it's going to be a long couple days. It was strange to get dressed and braid my hair this morning and think that this is what I'm going to look like for the next three days, unless I want to change my clothes randomly on a plane. Which I don't.

So today we finished up orientation, which was necessary but bland. We went over rules and such, and handed out our stipends, passports with visas (which are really pretty, actually!) and our cell phones for in Amman. That's right, I have, in my backpack, a cell phone with Arabic instead of English. I'm so pumped. OH, AND I GET TO TEXT WITH IT! I think it's funny how my first texting phone is going to be in Jordan, in Arabic.

So after getting all the logistics out of the way, we took a quick quiz on Arabic. I was pretty happy with how I did, but we all definitely are beginners, and have a lot of work to do. So after we went through the quiz, we started having ammiya lessons with our assistant resident director. He's a really good teacher, and we got through a lot of stuff for the short time we had left here in DC. Ammiya is the local dialect of Arabic that is spoken is a certain region. The ammiya in Jordan is Levantine, and is also spoken in Syria, Palestine, and a few other countries in the region. MSA, or modern standard Arabic, is a formal, written language, and is not anybody's native language. People learn the ammiya as their first language, and then study MSA in school. MSA is a formal Arabic, used in the media and printing, as well as formal speeches. But for day to day use, ammiya is the spoken language. So, apparently it's silly to speak MSA day-to-day, and it's silly to write ammiya, which is going to be, well, interesting to keep straight, but challeges are fun.

Also, I know a lot of people wanted to send letters, but the postal system works differently in Jordan. People don't really send letters, and so houses aren't labelled with street numbers like in the USA, and there isn't a postman that goes door to door. There's a post office, but people don't just stop by to see if they got a letter, they go on certain days to get bills and such, which they know are there. So mailing me isn't really an option, but I can send letters back to America. So if I have your address, I can write, if I have time. But mailing me doesn't work, and won't work. It's not that I don't know the address to give you, I literally won't ever have an address.

I'm really excited to meet my host family though, and start classes. Talking about going to Jordan for two full days of orientation has made me just that much more excited, and I can't wait to just get there and dive in. No more English! The resident director said my host family doesn't speak English, so it should be really good. I'm not nervous, just really looking forward to it. But I have three days now of travel before we get there, so we're ready for a long haul. I'm just going to study, and sleep, and study, and sleep. It's wonderful.

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