I wasn't looking forward to coming to Jordan this summer. My program was supposed to be in Yemen, which I was much more excited about, partly because nobody speaks English there, making it a better place to study Arabic, and partly because it has a reputation as the Wild West of the Arab world--one guidebook my roommate read summed up the country as suffering from "general lawlessness."
Unfortunately, what with mortar fire on the embassy compounds and all, the U.S. government recently decreed Yemen as far too unsafe a place to send a bunch of students, and so my program was moved to Jordan, which is considered safe.
(I told the Yemeni shopkeeper down the street that I couldn't go to Yemen because it wasn't safe and he said, "What?!? Of course Yemen is safe! Do you know why? Because everybody owns a gun. Hell, everybody owns three!" General lawlessness, indeed.)
So Jordan was a definite second choice, plus I was dreading the planned structure of the program: five hours of class in morning, plus three hours of optional tutoring, plus three hours of mandatory tutoring. That, frankly, sounds like a drag: why even bother to fly halfway around the world just to sit in a classroom all day?
On arriving, though, we learned that the program had been changed, and we now have two hours of class in the morning, and then are left, for the rest of the day, free to explore, adventure, study, and practice. This means that my life is, as far as I can tell, ideal: yesterday I went to class, went out to lunch, studied vocabulary in a hip cafe in downtown Amman, went to a soccer game, Jordan versus Turkmenistan, went out to dinner, and then stayed up late watching the European Cup Spain vs. Italy match at a trendy bar where all my friends smoked sheesha.
So life is good. I think, now, that the following picture best sums up how I feel right now about being in Jordan: