2015 Spring External Programs Holly Giang Jordan The Education Abroad Network

6 things that are different in Jordan

Word of the Day: يلاّ (Yalla)

Translates to “Let’s go! Come on!”

Temple of Hercules, Citadel, Amman
Temple of Hercules, Citadel, Amman

The cliché is true: time goes by so fast.

I have grown to love Amman. Far from a typical tourist city, it is a city that does not reveal itself to you at first sight. Here I am afforded the opportunity to actively engage with my new community and encounter new experiences with each passing day. 

Living abroad always brings with it changes, challenges and differences. But after more than a month in Amman, I’ve acclimated to a new life here. A life which, in all honesty, was embraced quickly and easily.

Consequently I had trouble coming up with aspects of Jordanian life that were “different.”

I have discovered that, by traveling extensively and living abroad, our similarities (and not our differences) become all the more apparent. I will touch on this topic later, but for the purpose of this blog post I will highlight some of the differences I have encountered in Amman, the city I am glad to call home in the interim.


Amman is the
The “original” Philadelphia
  1. Weekend: The work week here runs from Sunday to Thursday. Friday is the official day of rest, where most shops close for noon prayers.
  2. Call to prayer: Adhan occurs five times a day and is called out by the muezzin in the mosque via loudspeaker. The adhan here starts at 4AM (right around the time I go to bed).
  3. Street Addresses and Mail: Having a residential street address is still a relatively new concept in Jordanian culture. It’s common to give directions based on the nearest landmark. E.g., when I opened a bank account here and had to give them my address, I put down Mukhtar Mall in Sport City as the closest landmark.Regular mail does not reach a residential/business street address and can instead be picked up at the post office. When sending important documents, courier service is your best bet.
  4. Water: Jordan is one of the five driest countries in the world. Annual consumption per capita is about 170 cubic meters. To put things in perspective: the average Jordanian consumes about 100 liters a day, whereas Israelis on the other side of the border consume 900 liters – similar to the average American.Water is a scarce resource and has consequently been rationed as such.  Water is delivered every week; if a family were to use it all up before the next “water day” they would have to pay around $35 (for six cubic meters) to refill the tank on the roof. That being said, many Jordanians do not consider the water to be safe for consumption and drink bottled water instead. IMAG1057 (1) 
  5. Getting around: In Amman, traffic laws are mere suggestions. And it seems as though there is traffic no matter the time of day.Public transport is almost non-existent. There are a few buses, but there is no readily available schedule and the locations of the stops are ambiguous. There are also white mini-vans that depart once the vehicles are full, but there are no set routes and, as a (foreign) woman, I attract some unwanted attention when I walk by.  As such, I have been advised to only take taxis. I take them every day; they’re cheap (for Western standards) and they’re a great way to chat with the taxi drivers and practice my Arabic!
  6. Recreation: In Amman, you have to go and make your own entertainment. I live in a residential neighborhood called Al-Madina Al-Riyadiya (Sport City), which tends to be on the conservative side and offers little in terms of entertainment. On the other hand, neighborhoods such as Abdoun and Weibdeh offer numerous restaurants, cafes and bars.I play soccer every week with a local club and go kickboxing three times a week. When our busy schedule allows for it, my friends and I explore the restaurant scene in Amman and frequent shisha cafes.
Celebrating my British roommate's last night!
Celebrating my British roommate’s last night!

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