What I have Had to Learn….

As promised, I am back to write about what I have learned since living in Amman.  I thought to take a serious approach about how much I have learned about myself and the similar.  However, as I thought more about it, I think most of what would have come on that list is more related to becoming a mother and not related to living here.  Therefore, I have chosen to write about the quirky, the strange, and the silly things I had to learn in order to live here…thankfully they are funny to me now, because some of them were really irritating, frustrating, and annoying at the time.  Enjoy!

  • Trying clothes on in fitting rooms that are so small you cannot fit in anything more than yourself and your clothes.
  • Nescafe = coffee.
  • Eating out is a luxury.
  • Conserving water.  Running the water at half speed, turning off the water while brushing my teeth and while scrubbing the pots and pans, doing 6 + loads of laundry and doing all the ‘heavy’ cleaning (things that require lots of water) during the 24 hours the water is being filled from the city (as I use it it’s being replenished, so it doesn’t take from my weekly supply)…these are now normal and conserving water is always a better habit.
  •  I have learned which adapter is needed for which plug, in each and every outlet in my home. Seriously, how many different outlet plugs and styles are there and can’t we all just agree to get one kind!
  • Using electric converters for my US electronics…not so bad when it is a permanent appliance like the stove or refrigerator, but a big pain in the !@# when it is your vacuum cleaner, blender, hair dryer, electric mixer, etc, etc.
  • Counting Jordanian currency.  The paper bills are not bad because they are written in English and Arabic for those ‘dumb’ days when you are confused and need to make sure you are giving the right bills you can just flip it over to read the English (which are actually arabic) numbers. It was the coins that got me…I don’t know what my problem was, but I eventually figured it out.
  • TV programs didn’t seem to have set times or days…there was no 5:00 news or Sunday football!  This totally screwed me up, I had certain programs I liked to watch in the US at certain times of the day or week…they were gone and I couldn’t find them….until we got OSN, things are not normal, but they are better now 🙂
  • Where the hell do you buy…anything?!…until you figure out that everything has its place and that word of mouth is the best way to find anything…until then, you have no idea where to get some of your stuff!  For example…would you think that baby formula and infant cereal is ONLY sold at the pharmacy?!  Well, once you figure it out and quit saying “that’s stupid”, then it’s not so bad, because now you know where to get your formula.  Or crafting things…where to get fabric, yarn, buttons, felt, glitter, etc….we do not have JoAnn Fabrics or Micheal’s or Wal-Mart or anything remotely close to anything you are used to in the US.  So you have to ask around where to get these things…and you will probably have to go to 5 different stores to get each of them because no one store has a good selection of it all! ——Expat Note: If YOU know of a place that has it all, please let me know!
  • Family gatherings are not a social event for those who don’t speak much Arabic (unless you are lucky enough for the family to speak English).  It’s a great time to crochet 🙂
  • Smiling and small talk with men in the store, on the street, or other places where they are not your husbands relative or your work colleague is off-limits.
  • Guards with huge army guns (I won’t pretend I know what kind of gun they are).  It took a while, but I eventually got use to it.
  • Round-a-bouts in Amman are tricky, chaotic, and difficult to learn, but they are way more efficient than traffic lights.  Avoid ALL traffic lights if you can!
  • To keep the home cool in the summer (without air conditioner summers are hot in the desert) – open the windows at night to let in the cool night air and then close the window and the blinds early morning to keep the cool air in and the sunshine out.
  • To keep the home warm in the winter (cement homes in the rainy winter are very cold in the desert) – central heating is the only thing that works…it will cost 1/2 your monthly salary or more, but your home will be warm.
  • Formal Affairs….are you with me Expats!?!….what is with the formal affairs?  Every event is formal.  Work clothes are business suits.  Going to the large grocery store is a reason to dress up.  Going to someones home for a visit is a reason to dress up.  People wear business casual when going out for ice cream.  Weddings, Engagement parties, Graduation parties, other family parties are reason to wear a formal (prom-type) dress, get your hair done, and make-up professionally done.  I don’t know about this, it can be fun, but I still prefer my jeans and sweatshirts.
  • Driving in the chaotic traffic is difficult, but finding ways around the traffic can be even more tricky!  After 3 years, I have finally figured out how to maneuver around all the hills, curves, and one-ways to beat some of the outrageous traffic!
  • Shaking hands and kissing cheeks (if same gender as you), saying Hello, asking about their kids, their parents, their health, asking about their work and what is new, are all proper etiquette when seeing someone you know.
  • I have learned how to make new friend via social networking and I love it!  There is a large community of expats all around Amman with a variety of interests and reasons they live here.  I love meeting them, getting to know them, and making new friends!


I hope you had fun reading my shortlist of things I had to learn while living in Amman (it really is just a shortlist).  Anytime a person moves they have to learn new things.  New roads to learn, find a new physician, where is the post office, where is the park, etc.  However, when a person makes a move to a new country…they really have to learn everything new.  Nothing is as it was.  You can sit around and protest, which we all do for a while, but eventually one must figure it out.  They say the first year is the most difficult, the second year gets better, and by the third year you start seeing the benefits to living abroad.  I have lived through each of these three these steps and I have to agree with this analysis as truth.  Alhumdillah (thank God) for this experience and all experiences in life. After all it is our experiences that help us learn, that help us grow, and that mold us in to better people.


8 comments on “What I have Had to Learn….

  1. almanasir says:

    Look at me, I forgot to mention that it was here in Amman, and because I live here, that I learned how to blog 🙂

  2. Nancy Bogenschutz says:

    It has been fun to watch you learn, grow and become a fabulous person. We love you. Mom

  3. Cindi Hettver Cooley says:

    Thank you for putting your blog on fb, this is so interesting for me to read.

  4. almondjoycie says:

    I truly love your perspective. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Marjorie says:

    This has been great to read. I am also married to a Jordanian man. We have two kids and are expecting a third inshAllah. It is so good to see someone objectively speak about about the two cultures. I have learned so much. Salam!

  6. Nona Hovey says:

    So fascinating, so interesting. I am very proud of you, my sweet niece, for all you have learned. I loved watching you be a mom this summer (while in Minnesota) to your beautiful children.
    Much love, Aunt Nona

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