Part II: The Difficult

So living in Jordan, living anywhere, has its positives and it’s negatives.  In my blog posts, I try to keep things positive; however, as promised I am writing today about the things that make living in Jordan difficult.  Here they are in no particular order (and I am sure I forgot a few..ha!):

  • Water. Having a limited supply of it and not having hot/warm water always available at a minutes notice.
  • Traffic. Traffic here is awful.  Complete chaos.
  • Parking. Parking is worse.  There is hardly any parking lots. People double and triple park on the side of a small road, because there is no other option, and if you are lucky they have left their cell phone number on the windshield for you to call them if you need them to move their car.
  • Pedestrians. Excuse me, I am the one with the motorized vehicle and you are the one about to get run over without any protection…seriously, get out of my —– way.
  • Electric. I can only run so many heavy appliances at a time or else my electric will cut off.  Total pain when I need to run the dishwasher, cook, and do laundry all at the same time.
  • This is for all the other women out there: Dishes and laundry.  Most women do not have a dishwasher.  Most women do not have a clothes dryer.  I will never understand why they don’t invest in the things that will make their life easier…I suppose it is expensive and costs a lot of energy, but still ladies…invest in them because you deserve it!
  • Unannounced house guests. Guests call 5 minutes before arriving on your door.  A good hostess will always have a clean guest room for such unannounced visitors, and there should be always be something available to offer for drink (preferably turkish coffee, tea, or juice) and something to eat (fruit, nuts, dessert, or dinner if you are cooking they must stay to eat dinner with you).  Even though I truly enjoy the company…with 3 young kids, just the thought of unannounced visitors makes me anxious…my home is never up to Jordanian standards of ‘perfection’ and we usually eat the stash of nuts, etc.
  • Women Expectations. The woman (or her maid) is expected to have a clean home and a home cooked dinner ready…every night.
  • Housework.  The usual, everyday cleaning in Jordan is like ‘Spring Cleaning” in the USA.  Honestly.  The dust…OMG…the dust.
  • Maids. ‘Everyone’ has one, but me.  Maids are everywhere and this is why the woman expectation is so high.
  • Everything is Expensive.  Anything with quality is ridiculously expensive. I am not exaggerating when I say, that if you were to buy a children’s toy at the dollar store in the USA – you would pay $1.00 for a crappy, ugly toy that breaks probably that day or the next.  Now, if you buy that same, crappy toy in Jordan, you will pay what the Fisher Price toy cost in the USA, around $20, and it would still break that same day or the next.  Now, if you want to actually buy the Fisher Price toy that would cost you $20 in the USA (or $1.00 at a garage sale), in Jordan you better be willing to pay around $100 for that same $20 Fisher Price toy in the USA.  Now that same idea goes for everything…furniture, clothing, you name it.  To make matters worse, the average Jordanian makes about 1/10 the average salary in the USA…so imagine the expense!
  • Health Care.  Health care in Jordan is supposed to be the best in the Middle East.  It’s okay, but I am not too impressed.
  • Liter.  OMG – the liter.  Seriosuly, do you people not SEE it?!  Please stop littering. Haram!

Okay, that’s enough.  I hate to be so negative…unless I am chatting with my expat friends…ha.  I have to end on a positive note, because living here even though it has it’s pain-in-the-!@# moments, it does have it’s good things too (read previous blog entry)…and here are a couple more positives about living in Jordan:

  • Dead Sea and Aqaba.  I LOVE that we can drive 30 minutes to the Dead Sea or 3 hours to Aqaba (city on the Red Sea), stay in a hotel and feel like we took a vacation.  The weather is warmer on the Seas all year-long, so in the winter we often go stay in a hotel for the weekend, swim all day, lay in the sun, and feel like we went on vacation.
  • The ‘Harris’/Guard.  Every apartment has a guard, or harris in Arabic, that lives in a part of the apartment building.  He is paid a monthly salary to wash you car every other day, take out your trash, clean the property, help with a heavy load of groceries, he will even go get a short list of groceries for you, etc.  He makes life much easier with 3 little ones around!
  • Supermarkets.  I use to laugh at the name.  They are called supermarkets, but they are small Mom and Pop stores.  They can be found every couple of blocks, they are filled to the ceiling with merchandise, they have almost everything you need, and they make shopping easier and less stressful than going to the big grocery stores.  Your shopping is done in about 1/4 the time.
  • Bakeries.  I love going to the bakery and watching the bread being made and buying fresh bread.  I am talking, fresh out of the oven, warm, moist, delicious bread! Yummmmm.
  • Arabian Women at an All Ladies Party.  I love the energy the Arabian women have when it is time to celebrate!  To me, there is nothing more exciting than kicking out the men, so the women can take off their ‘outdoor’ clothing to reveal their beautiful party dresses/evening gowns, turn up the music, and watch them sing and dance!  They have so much excitement, it’s simply energizing!

So there you have it!  The difficult and few more positives about this place I am currently calling ‘home’.  I am thinking to next write about what I have learned since I move here…what I learned about myself and what I had to learn to get around here.  Have a great day!

Living In Jordan: The Good and The Difficult

We have lived in Amman, Jordan for nearly 3 years now….3 years…wow, that seems like a long time, yet has gone so quickly.  During this time, I have made some really great friends here  This summer I will be losing 2 of those friends and possibly a 3rd as they move out of Amman and on with their lives elsewhere.  It seems to be a trend.  Each summer, we lose some of our friends who move out of Jordan and we gain new ones who move to Jordan.  As my friends and I get together to celebrate the time we have spent together and to wish our friends farewell, the conversation revolves around living in Jordan and moving out of Jordan.  It has me thinking of all the things that make Jordan a more difficult place to live, and also the things that I have grown to love about this place that we are currently calling home.

I thought it would be of interest to blog about “Living in Jordan: The Good and The Difficult”, from my personal perspective.  However, as I start writing, I realize this needs to be a two-part series.  So….I am feeling positive tonight.  I will start with those things that I love about living here….next time I will write about the things that make it difficult.

Living In Jordan: The Good

  • God is present.  I love living in a country where the call for prayer goes off 5 times a day.  That you can see people praying on the side of the road, at your place of work, where the store owner stops and takes time to pray near the register, people pray at the bus stop, in the park, you see people praying openly anywhere and everywhere on any day.  There are signs posted throughout Jordan, mostly at traffic lights, that say (in Arabic), “Remember God”, “Ask God for Forgiveness”, “God is Great”, and the like.  I also love that the people remind each other endless times a day to Thank God for your blessings and to also Thank God for your challenges…as everything comes from God and we should be thankful for everything that he has given us.

 

  • Strong family bonds.  Family is family no matter where you live.  People all over the world love their family and would do most anything for each other.  However, here in Jordan, the family is defined at a much larger level – at a tribal level…yes, Jordanians have tribes…which means that many, many, many family last names belong to a specific tribe and each of those hundreds/thousands of people with those last names then fall under that tribe, and they are all considered to be family and they all help each other.  I cannot describe the meaning of family bonds here, but I can give an example.  I delivered my son here in Amman via c-section. After my surgery, I was sent to the Recovery Room.  The Recovery Room Nurse, saw my (my husbands) last name and said to me that she is from the same tribe; therefore, we are sisters and she will take really good care of me.  She took excellent care of me…she went way above and beyond the usual duty of a nurse in Jordan.  She then told her colleagues that we are family and to be careful with me and to take good care of me.  I appreciated her hard work and help, but honestly, she is not even a cousin of a cousin, of a cousin, of a cousin, of a cousin, or anything near that to my husband – much less me who is an American married into the family.  This is common practice here, families not only take care of each other but they go above and beyond the usual call of duty.

 

  • Friendship.  The expat friends I have met here are W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L!  We just get each other in ways that people back home or in Jordan cannot.  We live separate, but parallel lives.  We have left our families, moved to Jordan from other countries, are converts to Islam, married to Jordanians, are raising by-racial and bi-cultural and bi-lingual children, speak limited Arabic, and face similar excitements and disappointments about it all.  Literally, there are an endless number of invitations for get togethers, playdates, and lady nights.  Each invite is an opportunity to meet a new friend, as there are so many expats moving in to our neighborhoods.  There is a special bond and sisterhood we share.

 

  • Amman is open.  The capital and the people of Jordan, Amman, are -in many respects- more open than many American large cities I have lived in.  What I mean by that is the following:
  •      English is the second language spoken in Jordan.  You find nearly all road signs written in Arabic and English.  Most people here speak some if not fluent English.  All schools teach English from K-12 grade at some degree.  Many schools and Universities teach all subjects in English 100% of the time.  Many businesses and sectors are conducted strictly in English.
  •      Most people here L-O-V-E people from outside Jordan.  There is a certain respect the Jordanians give to expats, especially Americans.  Most Jordanians have been to the US or have a brother or sister who live in the US.  Jordanians are very welcoming and interested to talk with you, either out of curiosity, because they lived in the US, or to practice their English.
  •     Jordanians don’t care if you are Muslim or Christian.  There are churches scattered all over Amman.  Christmas is a National Holiday and Easter is given off to Christians, even though only 10% of the population is Christian.

 

  • Amman is where the Eastern and Western Culture collide.  I love that I can grab a falafel, humus, foul, with fresh bread and veggies for breakfast one day, have a shwarma sandwich for lunch, and the next day I can order Domino’s Pizza delivery or go out to TGIF/AppleBee’s/Chili’s.  I also love that there is very traditional bedouins would live in burlap tents and live completely off the land, and just down the road from their tent you find a mall with stores like Gap, H&M, Louis Vuitton, etc.  There are young farmers herding their sheep across a busy street in the heart of Amman where Mercedes and Hummers are stuck in traffic waiting for the sheep to cross the road.

 

  • I love my kids experience.  I love knowing that I am giving my children the chance to not only experience another culture, but to live amongst it – and to not only experience another culture, but a dying culture.  So many cultures today, Jordanian included, are looking towards to the west as a model.  They are leaving their roots, culture and heritage to live more western.  I am happy that my kids are experiencing a Middle Eastern culture, while is still exists.  I love that my children are not only learning another language in school, but are required to use the language in daily conversation.  I love that my kids can experience both cultures (my husbands and my own).  That they are learning and experiencing life differently and uniquely from many of their peers around the world.  I hope that they grow and learn deeply from these experiences.  I pray that they will be stronger and more wise from the time they spend here.  I know today, it is normal life for them, but someday, Inshallah (God Willing) they will benefit.

There are many things that I have always loved about Jordan, there are many things that I have learned to love over the years, and there are many things that I do not love about Jordan.  It is what it is.  Living here has made me stronger, has helped me learn about myself in ways that I would have never learned elsewhere, has given me character, and has helped me build a better bond with my husband.  It is not always easy living so far away, in a culture so different from your own, learning a new method of communication (Arabic).  However, it is what it is.  We must make the best of our lives and we must Thank God for the good, the great, and the not so great.  I am sure that one day, when I am not feeling so positive or simply as promised, I will write Part II to this blog….Living in Jordan: The Difficult.

Proud Mom!

I am back, as promised, to write about how great and wonderful my other two kids are 🙂  I am so proud of both kids!

My Little Lady

  • Was 1 of 5 kids chosen, in her class of 25, to participate in the Science Fair at school!  She recited her line to the judges and a handful of cameras perfectly with little hesitation!  Their team recieved 3rd place.
  • Has been chosen to represent her preschool class in the Spelling Bee at the end of the month (1 of 3 out of the class of 25).  She will compete with other kids representing their preschool classes in other area schools!  She has learned to spell 30 words in English for the big event!  Pretty good for a 4 year old 🙂
  • Has memorized 11 verses from the Quran, and continues to memorize more each week!  Mashallah (May God Bless her)!
  • Has learned to read and write the entire English alphabet and Arabic Alphabet, and she is starting to put letters together to form words in both languages.
  • Her Arabic has picked up and she is speaking Arabic well with her friends and family.
  • Loves to do her homework.
  • Is a wonderful helper around the home and sets a good example for the younger kids.
  • Loves her baby brother soooooo much, a true blessing to watch them interact!
  • Loves her middle brother, and plays with him well.

My Little Man

  • Anything he wants to learn, he learns quickly, and does exceptionally well.  Mashallah (May God Bless him).
  • Continues to be very athletic.  He is currently working on his golf swing…watch out Tiger!
  • Has a sense for numbers.  The other day he told me that there are 3 people in the room (Mom, O, and A) but there were 5 people in the room (and he named all 5), he continued to explain that 2 of them left so now there are 3 people….this is just one example of how he thinks (this Mom is impressed).
  • Has a sense of space.  His new favorite activity is putting together puzzles, especially ‘tricky puzzles’ which are 25 peice puzzles without borders.  He does so with little need for help and doesn’t get frustrated.
  • Has learned how to write his name, in English.
  • Has learned to be a good listener and how to respect those around him.
  • Has a great sense of humor!  How quickly he can come up with jokes or understand a joke always impresses me.
  • Helps Mom and Dad around the house, and it so proud when he picks up his trucks and cleans his room!
  • Loves his baby brother and takes good care of him.
  • Loves his sister and plays well with her.

Alhumdillah, God has blessed our family with 3 wonderful children.  As a parent, it is so much fun to watch them grow and develop their own strengths and to help them work on their lesser strengths.  I cannot be happier with my decision to stay home to watch them grow, and help them transition from wonderful babies, into little people, and eventually into wonderful adults – inshallah (God Willing)!