Thursday, February 18, 2010

Challenging Cultural Difference.

I have another question to answer!

I was asked, which cultural difference has been the most challenging to accept? My first thought was not many. I have traveled to Jordan many times over the past 11 years and I know the culture quite well. However, as I thought about it came to me. The most challenging cultural difference is the ideals of raising children. I am not an expert on raising children, yes I have two small ones of my own, but I am not an 'expert'. It is interesting to me to see how others raise their kids, but it also difficult because I/we have my/our own way that I/we want to raise my/our children.

Parenting here is, in my opinion, pretty laid back. They let the children do as they please, especially younger children. When small children cry or ask for things the answer is almost always, "give it to him" or " let her have it". I personally have a hard time with this because, if I tell my child "No", I mean "No". I probably wouldn't think twice about it, but now that I am here in Jordan...I sometimes question myself and wonder if I am being too strict with a 2.9 year old and a 1 year old. I understand the limitations of a 1 and 2 year old to understand completely; however, sometimes I tell them and teach them things to prepare them for the future as well as for now. I don't want my kids to think if they have a temper-tantrum they will then get their way. Sometimes I find it difficult to go against both what my child wants and the ideals around me and do what I believe is best for my children. This can sometimes lead to inconsistencies and confusion for my children as well as for me.

I also have a very difficult time with giving my children anything they want. After all, I am the adult and they are children; therefore, I know better what is good for them and what is not. For instance, it is perfectly normal here to bring a 2.5 year old to the corner store and allow them to buy a sack full of candy, treats, ice cream, what have you, and then let them devour it all once they get home. This drives me insane. Not only is it going to make them sick and potentially start a lifetime of bad habits, but I am a nurse and their mother who worries about their health. I try to be slightly accommodating when at my in-laws, knowing that this is a way they show their love, but I do put restrictions on how much candy my little ones get to eat...especially when it is before dinner.

Lastly, family life and getting together with one another is a huge part of Jordanian culture and life. Because in many families both parents work, it is common to visit each other after work and after supper. The children are brought from home to home without regard to bedtime hours. Especially in the summer, many children are not in school and so there is no bedtime set. It is completely common to see very young children out shopping or out visiting people after 1000pm and thereafter! It seems that Jordanians don't understand the importance of sleep for a child...? Another example of this is the daycare my husband and I are looking at. It is a very good daycare; however, they do not have a scheduled time for naps.

When I asked my husband about his opinion regarding this subject, he agreed the parenting is too relaxed when the children are young. However, he continued to explain the children here are 'children' until around age five, six or seven. He said that once the children reach about 7 years old, then the parenting style becomes more strict. From this age onward, they are taught about respecting their elders, helping out around the home, religion, school and studying become very important. He said the Islamic Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) taught that children should be treated as such from infancy until 7 years. At 7 years, they should be forced to pray and to be dealt with more strictly. This strictness should then change into a friendship-like relationship after age fourteen. Allah wa'alm (God Knows Best). As my husband and I talked about the differences in ideals, we noticed the patterns of Jordanian styles of parenting to be similar to that of the teaching of the prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

It is interesting to live somewhere else. To discover and learn so many different things. To be an iron curtain about the things you believe. To then learn more, soften more and absorb more. I am fully American. However, my ideals will never be fully American nor fully Jordanian. Just as my husband and his ideals will never be fully Jordanian nor fully American. We take from what we have learned from our up bringing, from our experiences and make them our own unique experience. We are fortunate to have seen and lived with both ideals, so that we can throw out the bad and absorb the good. To make our own ideals. To teach our own children from what we have learned and experienced. It is challenging, interesting and a wonderful opportunity for us, for our children and family.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Betsy's Class continued...

Questions about my new job.

Yes, I am a Registered Nurse and I was recently offered a job. The job is not specifically nursing. I don't think that I could be a great bedside nurse without knowing Arabic fluently. I am really sad about this, but I knew this to be true when I moved here and I knew this as I was looking for work.

I found a job that uses my nursing background and my personal experience with computer charting. I will be working for a non-profit organization that is developing and implementing computer charting for all hospitals and clinics in Jordan. Basically over the next 7 years their entire health care system will have the same computer network. Every doctor, nurse, clinician will be using the same computer charting and have the same information in their computer about all patients in Jordan. Therefore, if someone is vacationing in another part of Jordan and needs medical care, the doctor will know the medications, allergies, health history, xray results, lab work, virtually everything about the patient with just a click on his computer! This will provide the opportunity for better care of all Jordanians and easier access for all providers.

I will help in this process. They have a variety of opportunities for me within this organization. I will know more on Sunday and the days to come!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

In Response to Betsy Kelley's Class.

Hello! Hello! To update those out there who don't know (most all of you), I have been asked to talk with Betsy Kelley's Geography class about life in Jordan! The students will be asking questions on my blog or emailing me and I will do my best to answer their questions. I will try answer their questions on my blog and email, as well as in their classroom in Sheridan, Wyoming via Skype! Here are my first set of questions!!

How have my day to day activities changed since moving to Jordan?
The two most influential things that have changed my day to day activities are becoming a stay at home Mom without a car and not knowing the language.

I use to work a few days a week and I was a Mom the rest of the week. Currently, I am staying home with my two kids (well, until I start my new job on Sunday!). I love being able to stay at home with them. There is nothing more enjoyable than watching them grow, learn, love and play together. Currently, my days revolve around my kids. I cook 3 meals for them, clean up after them, love them, play with them, teach them, watch them grow. Not having a car of my own (until this week!), we have been pretty secluded to our apartment. This can be challenging at times. Being a stay at home Mom is wonderful; however, I have learned that it was good for me to get out of the home and work part-time. I will start part-time work this Sunday after being off for 9 months.

Not knowing the language makes me feel a bit insecure to get out of the house, especially the first few months. Currently, I can drive to my in-laws, the malls, grocery store, movie store and a few other places. However, I was quite insecure to do so myself until just recently. I was afraid of getting lost..Ahhh?!...then what was I going to do...?!...what if no one could give me directions to get back to my home...especially since I didn't even know how to explain to anyone where my home was! LOL! I am now feeling more confident with my Arabic and realise that most everyone speaks, at some level, English and everyone is extremely helpful.

It is also difficult to shop here without knowing the language because most places do not have price tags on them. They bargain for price! It can be fun; however, being a foreigner, the store owner automatically charges me more! He thinks I have more money...which I don't...I live here! Basically, you need to know the language and the basic price for things, so you don't get ripped off! Being a female who likes to shop alone, I find it frustrating to have to bring my whole family with me to ensure that I don't get ripped off! Again, with time, I am getting more comfortable and it is getting better.

What is the biggest difference from living in Jordan from the USA?
Shopping. First, there are no price tags in many stores. I am a bargain shopper, so how am I suppose to know if this is a bargain before I try it on or think of purchasing it?! I always feel nervous before I ask them for the price too. In Jordan it is totally normal to ask the price and then look at the store owner like he is crazy and then ask him for a better price....I come from small town Minnesota, we don't do that there ;o) Another thing that is strange about shopping is the stores are extremely small, yet they seem to have anything you are looking for. You can just look around, but if you ask someone for what you are looking for they usually have it on another shelf tucked away, around some corner. So, you have to ask for what you want and that means you have to know what you want. Before I would just look around until something, on sale, caught my eye. Lastly, there is a store clerk for every customer (again the stores are small). The store clerk literally follows you around, in your personal space! It was so weird for me to shop with someone standing, watching me, ready to answer any questions and ready to help with whatever I need. It took a while for me to get over my shyness. Shyness is something I must overcome to fit in here too...I don't know many Arabs who are shy. Polite yes, but not shy!

Has it been difficult to adjust?
Yes, in many ways it has been difficult. Other Americans whom I have met and are living in Jordan tell me that the first year is difficult and then it gets better. In many ways, it's like any other move. You have to figure your way around town, find a new place to get groceries, find a new doctor, make new friends, learn the culture of the town. However, when you do these things and know the language, you still feel that you are in control. Not knowing the language has put me completely dependant on my husband and his family. It's not a bad thing, it's just different and at times frustrating. For instance, I can't just pick up the phone and make a doctor appointment or order pizza, because the person on the other line may not understand me. Or as mentioned above, I can't just go shopping for certain things by myself because I will pay three times what I should. Driving and directions in Jordan are a story in itself! It is nearly impossible to get around until you have been here for quite sometime! Not to mention all the appliances, computer, blenders, hair dryers, etc that need converting or converters in order to work with the electric here. Many, many things are different and many, many things needed to be done to feel 'normal'!

I have lost some Independence; however, the flip side, I have gained a lot of trust and admiration for my husband through all of this. I have had to lean on him for everything and he is happy to help with my transition. For that I love him more than before. Thanks Yanal ;o)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Got a Job and a second Car!

Hello, hello! As you can see by my title, we have bought another car and I will soon be going to work!

The work!...It's interesting how perspective changes. For a couple months now I have been out looking for work. Not too aggressively, because I love staying home with the kids. Yet, there were days when I was saying to myself...Get me outta this house! Kids, no doubt that I love them dearly, yet I need a break once in a while. I'm sure all the stay at home Mommies can relate to those feelings, especially those with 2 little one and no transportation. However, now that I have been offered a job and start work in a few days.....Alhumdillah (Thank God), yet, um, I just want to stay home with my beautiful kids! I am going to miss those little ones so much! This question keeps coming to me, how does one drop them off in someone elses care for 8 hours?! I found a daycare that seems really nice, but all that crazy it going to make my kids crazy too!?! I have my in-laws that have offered to help out as well. I will start our first day with the kids in a familiar place, at Grandma's home "Tae-Tae's house" as Little Miss calls it. I feel good about both places. I know they are safe and will be looked after....but it won't be me, Momma, looking after them....Sigh. On the flip side, it will be great for the kids to get out and play with other kids. They will learn things from the kids at the daycare that they cannot learn from me. Our time together will also be just that much more special. It will also be good for me to get out of the house, meet new people and to use that part of my brain that has been turned off for nearly 9 months now. I will tell you more about the job once I start and know more about it myself :-)

The car!...It's a 2004 Peugeot. I don't know the model, but it's one of those little cars you often see in Europe. We don't have them, that I know of, in the US. It's a cute car that fits 4 people comfortably and 5 people if needed. We needed a second car, simply for each of us to get around town. Hubby takes the car to work and the kids and I are 'stuck' all day. So now, Alhumdillah, we have the freedom to get out, explore, shop and play! It will be great to have the second car now that I will start work too. It will also be great for when my parents and sister are here visiting in a few weeks because we will have more flexibility as well! Yeah for the new car :0) Pictures to come, I'm sure.

That's the exciting news in our home this week! I guess things are starting to feel more and more like 'home away from home' all the time. Hope you had a good week as well!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Three Things Interesting This Week.

So this week was filled with interesting things that happened. These are common in Jordan, but new and unusual to me.

1. I was pulled over yesterday on my way home from Arabic class. There are police-men and women who stand on the circles and high traffic areas. They are there to help direct traffic and to pull people like me over. We shipped our car here and still have our Wisconsin license plates on the car. We have done the necessary paperwork to keep our car legal as long as possible, before we either have to pay the outrageous tax to get Jordanian plates or to sell our car. Either way, we can drive our car this way under my Wisconsin drivers license as well. Hubby has showed me all the paperwork that I need to show the police, just in case of a day, like yesterday, when I indeed was pulled over. The officer didn't speak English and I didn't understand his Arabic, so we played the 'I'm sorry I don't understand you' game for a while. Then I showed him my driver's license and he proceeded to ask for the paperwork Hubby had showed me. I pulled it out and showed it to him. He started reading it, smiled and asked, "my/husbands last name?!, "his family name?!"..."Yes, my husband is ____, ____" I told him in Arabic. Then he smiles some more, returns to me my paperwork and tells me to have a nice day. ~It's all about who you know and family relations here! I didn't ask him, but judging from his response, I'm certain he too was an _____, _____! Ha!

2. Hubby has been suffering from a sore throat and headaches for the past few days. Instead of going to the doctor, you can just head to your local pharmacy! Today Hubby went to the pharmacy. He told them his complaints and they handed him something to soothe his soreness (no problem), but they also gave him antibiotics! What?!?!?? He doesn't have an infection, I checked him out last night...and even if he does have an infection, shouldn't that be managed by his physician? So, so very strange!!

3. My sister-in-law had some lab work ordered from her MD. She went to the laboratory and she, the patient, ordered additional labs! She's not a nurse, MD nor does she have any medical training, she just ordered them because she was curious. What?!...anyone can do that?! Then, she picked up the results herself, no one trained, no MD, present to explain to her the results. She will make an appointment to discuss the results with her MD, but in the mean time she is asking everyone what her results, what?! very strange!

What's so funny to me is that these things are so strange to me and when I question the people about them, they don't notice it's strangeness. They are totally normal occurrences that happen here. Funny, yet strange.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010 Jordan

It happens almost every year lately, but over all it's still very uncommon for snow to fall in Jordan.

Last night they were predicting snow and everyone was out shopping. They we shopping for groceries. Filling up their cupboards because the stores will be closed as well as many schools and places of work. People are happy and praying for the snow. They are looking forward to being couped up inside with their families, baking and cooking comfort foods.

As the weathermen predicted, we woke up to snow this morning. It snowed at our home all day on and off. Out our window there is nearly 1/2 inch of snow dusting the rocks and mountains. It's quite pretty and reminds me of home.

The snow today was not enough to close my husbands work, but many people did not go because of the snow. Many stores stayed open as well; however, there were schools closed. It's interesting how the streets, people and equipment are not use to snow as we are in the Midwest of the United States. Growing up in Minnesota, snow just seems like a natural part of life. Where here in Jordan, it is such an uncommon occurrence and they are not equip for even the smallest amount of snow.

I hope the Jordanians stay warm and enjoy their time with family this snowy weekend! This family of Midwesterners will be traveling out to Grandma and Grandpa's home this weekend for my son's 1st birthday party!