So I think this is the point in the study-abroad experience that they term “losing it.” I’m both homesick but not wanting to leave Jordan (which I will have to, in less than a month), feeling like I don’t fit in very well, really looking forward to living and working in Beirut for the summer but overwhelmed by the prospect of finding an affordable apartment. And apparently it all culminates in me flipping off random people.
To back up: everyday my good friend/neighbor Katie and I walk out of our neighborhood, cross a four-lane highway, and wait for a bus, or at last resort, a taxi, for the ten-minute ride to school. When it was really cold, we would wear our very unflattering fleece jackets, along with gloves, scarves, and of course we had huge backpacks and purses. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most attractive get-up. But no matter what we look like in the morning, we always get honked at, waved at, yelled at, by truckers, cab drivers, random motorists, you name it. Imagine standing on the edge of a highway, trying to hail a bus, and all the while you’re being ogled. The worst is when a car flashes its lights and slows down and the older male driver peers lasciviously out his window, asking you to get in. I literally want to hurl all over his windshield.
So today was nothing extraordinary: a truck full of men, from across the median, saw us, decided to wave and honk incessantly, to which I gave them an extended middle finger. Rude? Impolite? Undignified? Of course. But I’m so tired of looking down at the sidewalk, being silent, stone-faced, pretending I don’t hear their comments or feel their stares, that I just had to express my utter disgust somehow. This is hands-down my least favorite part of life in the Middle East. It’s in Iran too, but at least in Iran I can curse someone out and feel satisfied, and don’t have to constantly question if the reason they’re staring is because of how I’m dressed (there are some advantages to forced veiling, I have to say). Here, both because I’m a stranger and I’m not fluent, I wouldn’t feel comfortable. The worst part is, I don’t even get the worst of it, because I look Arab! The poor girls in our program who look nothing but American get much more blatant come-ons. My African-American friend gets called “chocolat haleeb” (“chocolate milk”) all the time (which I have to admit is pretty hilarious), while my friend with short blond hair gets asked “how much?” on a daily basis (not quite so funny). DISGUSTING.
Anyway I had to get that rant out, so thanks for reading! Haha happier posts are to come, I’m sure.