First Few Days in Amman

by tuftsigl
Jan 06

Written by Elissa Miller


I’ve been in Amman for four days, yet it simultaneously feels like I’ve been here much shorter and much longer. So far it has been a fantastic experience. I only had two interviews this week, and spent the rest of the week exploring and doing typical tourist activities. Tomorrow begins a marathon interviews for my research that doesn’t let up until Wednesday, the day before I leave. I can’t wait. The past few days have been fun, but I have been anxiously waiting for the interviews to start all week.


On Tuesday I had my first interview with a Jordanian journalist. I’ve never done any research like this, and I was very nervous. However, the interview turned out to be great. The journalist was very welcoming and knowledgeable. Our interview turned conversation just made me more anxious for the rest of the interviews to come. All the noise of downtown Amman and my nerves faded away as I jumped into the heart of my research, discussing Jordanian identity and how East Banker-Palestinian relations play into that identity with a fellow intellectual in a country that is largely unknown to me. I have meetings set up with journalists, academics, and other contacts for the next five days and I am immensely excited to see where my research goes.


Another exciting part of the trip has been practicing my Arabic. I’m surprised at how much I understand, and yet how limited my Arabic is, given my almost four full years of studying the language at Tufts. The Jordanians who I speak Arabic with are very nice; at cafes, tourist spots, in taxis, and in our hotel. And I’m pretty sure that my fellow researchers who don’t speak Arabic appreciate the added advantage it gives us when walking around the streets of downtown. Hearing Arabic almost every second of everyday has been very exciting, and I think my ear for understanding local conversations is improving.


Today, while some of our group went to visit Petra, a small number of us stayed behind to visit the castle at Karak. It was an amazing feat to behold. I’ve been fascinated by all of the ruins in Amman and Jordan in general. Our hotel is right across from the ruins of a Roman amphitheater. Looking out onto the landmark at night while watching the cars that honk constantly race by provides an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new. Karak was more isolated, not located in downtown Amman. We explored the tunnels in the old castle and experienced the magnificent view at its peak. The architectural achievement astounded me, as did the ruins in the city of Jarash that we all visited on Wednesday.


All in all everything has been great in Amman, but I can’t wait until tomorrow to start interviewing more people and explore the opinions of different Jordanians regarding my research. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here, and I can’t wait to share what I learn in my research.

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