It’s been two weeks since I got back from my trip to the United Arab Emirates and Oman and I have been extremely busy.
With only about six weeks left until the end of the semester, classes have really picked up. I had a midterm last week in my International Relations class and I always have some Arabic studying to do. Although the classes have been intense at times, I feel like I am learning a lot and still have opportunities to do other cool things.
One of the best parts of my experience so far has been my internship. I am working with an awesome international nonprofit organization that has an office here in Amman. I have been working on one of their projects that helps local youth work on gender inequality in their own neighborhood. I also helped create the regional newsletter for the organization’s offices in the Middle East for September and OCtober.
Probably the greatest thing about my internship is all the amazing people I get to meet. Since it is an international organization, the Jordan office sometimes hosts forums with people from around the world who are all working in various locations to empower marginalized people using human rights as a basis. I have had the opportunity to talk with people from all around the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Not only that, but the internship has given me great opportunities to interact with Jordanians. Everyone at our office been so friendly and welcoming, and I can’t imagine my experience here in Jordan without them. Also, I have gotten to meet some of the youth that the organization works with in Amman and neighboring Zarqa. I have been impressed and inspired by their energy and passion for improving their communities.
Of course, even with my busy schedule, my friends and I took time on Friday to take a daytrip to Ajloun, a town about an hour north of Amman that hosts a well-preserved castle from the Crusades.
We woke up fairly early and headed to a nearby bus station to see if we could catch a bus to Ajloun. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), there were no buses available (Friday is the Muslim holy day so a lot of businesses are closed and not as many buses run), so we decided to hire a taxi to take us instead. After negotiating the price down, the four of us got in the car and began our journey.
Although the castle was quite impressive and had great views, it was the driver who made the day memorable. He insisted on getting us all beverages on the road to Ajloun (he even bought peach juice for the girl who didn’t want anything) and then became our guide, pointing out olive and grape farms and asking us about the differences between America and Jordan.
When we got to Ajloun, we decided (with his persuasion) that it would be best to just pay him to stay with us for the day since the weather was overcast and we didn’t want to get stuck at the top of the hill in the rain without a way to get home. Fortunately for us, hiring a driver for the day also meant we got an official photographer. First we stopped outside Ajloun to get photos of the castle from a distance. It was clear that the castle had significant strategic military value from far away.
After, we entered the castle and spent a few hours there. Our driver kept pointing to places in the castle and saying we should get a picture there. We happily obliged, even as he put us in funny formations and once even got us props. It is definitely the best-documented day trip I have been on. Here is a selection of the many photos he took:
After we had seen the entire castle, we headed to Jerash where we had a wonderful (and wonderfully inexpensive) lunch. Finally, we made it back home to Amman, after promising the driver we would call him if we went on any other day trips.
Since the trip, it seems as though Jordan has finally realized that it is not summer anymore. After pretty much two full months of constant warmth and sunshine, the weather has become colder and rainy. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much though because it is still warmer here than back home.
The changing weather has made it sink in that the semester is over halfway done. Although I am excited to get back home and see my friends and family, I still have so much I want to do and see in Jordan. I am hoping to make the most of the last six weeks I have here, which means I will only get busier!