Things are pretty quiet here in Amman, which is why I haven’t been updating much. We have our midterm tomorrow, so I’ve been studying a lot for that. Days have fallen into a very consistent pattern: class, falafel shop for lunch, then studying at the TAGS center (a free student center that has computers and the best wireless access I’ve seen in Jordan) for a few hours before returning home, hanging out with the family, and studying (more).
Probably the most exciting thing that has happened has been meeting up with my old host family. I was sort of reminded of the issues that I had with my host family then (i.e. them being completely lovely but their conversational English not being quite good enough to hold a conversation and my colloquial Arabic being horrible), but it was still quite pleasant. We went to an American-themed restaurant (it had a sort of Wild West decor but served a bunch of Italian food? It was weird) and I remembered the feeling of being so stuffed that I wanted to throw up. I know that it’s done with the best intentions, but I’m not sure my stomach could handle another summer of intentions that good, so I’m glad my current host family isn’t nearly as extreme in that respect.
In hindsight, I’m also really glad that CIEE put us in homestay pairs. While general wisdom appears to be that it’s best not to put two American students together in the same homestay, my host mother (who has hosted many students before) said that when two girls are put together, they’re much more likely to “have power” and to speak up. I think she’s right. Having a safe space inside of the homestay where you can talk to someone from your home culture can make the experience of being immersed in a foreign culture less mind-boggling, and make you more likely to actively engage with it. Of course, there are probably groups of American students who would band together and try as hard as they can not to immerse themselves, but I have a feeling those people wouldn’t be getting much out of the homestays anyway.
Also, it’s great to have someone to study with. Host families are great for getting colloquial expressions, but not so great with explanations of grammar and translating texts in MSA. :/