First Days in Amman

Hello everyone and thank you for taking the time to check out my blog! My name is Matthew Kennelly and I’m an International Studies major at Holy Cross. Currently, I’m studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics at the University of Jordan and I’m excited to share my experiences with you all!

So far, Amman has been interesting, to say the very least. The city itself is sprawled over a series of hills and the roads are lined with countless coffee shops, stores, and markets. In Amman, you will find there is a striking blend of both old and new; familiar and unfamiliar. Five times a day, the calls to prayer bellow from the mosques and echo throughout the city; it is impossible to forget that you are in an Arab country. However, at the same time, liquor stores and bars can be found all around the city and a quick trip to Abdali Mall will provide you with whatever goods you may need.

Since I am studying through a Middlebury program, all students are expected to spend the entirety of their time abroad speaking their target language.  I feel like my two years of Arabic at Holy Cross are serving me well, but there are some challenges as well. For those of you that may not know, there are dozens of dialects of Arabic. Each dialect has its own words, pronunciations, and quirks. To make matters slightly more confusing, everyone claims that their dialect is the most proper form of Arabic. Like most students from the US, I was taught Fusha (Modern Standard) Arabic, which while helpful, still is imperfect. When speaking Fusha in Amman, the best-case scenario is that you will be seen as just a little too formal. In the worst case, you will be met with a blank stare and a lot of ‘ahs’  and ‘ums.’ The latter being a common result.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on all the amazing things Jordan has to offer, as well as what attending classes is like in the Middle East. As soon as I obtain a working burner phone I will be sure to take plenty of pictures also!

!مع السلام (maʿa s-salāma) Goodbye!

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