How many times can you get ridiculously lucky in one short trip? I think I’m about to find out. Since I’ve arrived in Jordan I’ve had almost no major mishaps (except losing my Sim card after putting in my Jordanian one, doing exactly what my mom told me not to do…sorry!), got into every class I requested, and tested into the highest level of Arabic possible (which might be more of a curse rather than a blessing, but we’ll see). I thought my luck might run out when it came to my homestay family, but on first impression it seems like I’ve hit the proverbial jackpot.
My host family consists of Abeer, the mother, a stay-at-home mom just a little older than my own mother; Ibrahim, the father, who is a lawyer and teaches law at a few universities in Amman; Muhamed, an 18 year-old freshman at the University of Jordan; Farah, a 22 year-old student at UJ; and two older sons studying at England right now. I live within walking distance of at least 5 other American students, and a five-minute cab ride from the university, although the girls and I want to ride the bus. I have my own room, a flexible curfew, and it’s been made very clear that I can come and go as I please without worrying about meal times. And most importantly, Abeer doesn’t speak much English, giving me a fantastic opportunity to be forced to learn Arabic, although right now we’re communicating via random vocabulary words and a series of hand gestures. That’ll get better though. Oh, also, I live in basically the Beverly Hills (or, shoutout to my Oklahoma readers, the Brookhaven) of Jordan:
The only issue that has come up is that the family is a little too Westernized for my taste, or at least for what I was expecting. We were forewarned that we would be expected to eat at least two meals with the family, but Abeer insists that I don’t need to worry about when to come home, that their house is my house, and that I should come and go as I please. That’s great and all…but that’s way more liberal than even my home in America, where everyone knows where everyone is almost all the time. The Mohaysens have had several homestay students before, so I think they’re just used to letting the kids do what they want. I hope once I have a routine and feel more comfortable (and not like an intrusion) I’ll be able to integrate myself more with the family.
They have a live-in Filipina maid, which makes me uncomfortable on a lot of levels. They seem to treat her well, compared with some of the horror stories I’ve heard, but she still isn’t allowed out of the house and doesn’t get a day off, and she’s eighteen. Ridiculous. This is the thing about the Middle East (Iran too) that makes me sick to my stomach, the idea of hierarchy and deserved fates and non-egalitarianism that permeates everything and takes on a racist tinge when you’re talking about the hired help.
Some more pictures of my neighborhood below. Dubouk is in far northwest Amman, close to the university but far from everything else, and it’s clear it’s very new. There’s construction everywhere and is a little desolate, despite the fabulous houses. Is anybody else reminded of Arrested Development, specifically the one where they build a Bluth house in Iraq?