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)


  1. this is a wonderful thing you are doing with is class Beth. This blog was fantastic. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.
    Auntie Sharee

  2. Greetings from across the world!!! May I please ask you a question....?

    What is the most challenging cultural difference you have found yourself struggling to accept?

    -I know the language barrier is one of the most difficult challenges, but I was wondering what other cultural obstacle you have endured or are currently enduring.

    Thank you very much for your time.