Case Study – Maria Christian Jordan 2022

My time in Jordan! A country full of life, chaotic joy, shisha smoke, cats and gorgeous food.

Before talking about wonderful Jordanian quirks I’d like to thank the John Speak Trust, first for their financial support, without which I would not have been able to travel to Jordan and hugely improve my Arabic. And secondly, for their belief and patience in me as a language student, for which I am immensely grateful.


I will summarise my four months in Jordan through talking about the small quirks I appreciated the most and how it helped me with my Arabic.

  1. Jabal al-Hussein – my neighbourhood

I ended up living on the border between Jabal al-Weibdeh (the area where most of the foreign students live) and Jabal al-Hussein, a 1950s refugee camp which is now built up as a residential part of Amman. I hit the jackpot with my lively landlady and housemates, who encouraged me to always speak in Arabic. I lived on top of one of the tallest hills, fantastic for views of the city and fantastic for enforced exercise.


  1. Arab hospitality

IMG_0403The second thing that is a cliche but is something I can attest to was the friendliness and welcoming hospitality of the people I IMG_0404met. Starting with my landlady, who invited me every Friday to her house for traditional Syrian breakfast, and brought us along to weddings she went to, and took me to the doctors when I was ill. These are not things that a landlord in the UK would generally do, but she explained to me that it was inbuilt in her very fabric, Arabic culture dictates that you should invite people for food into your house. Another thing that I enjoyed and found very wholesome was that no one needed alcohol to have fun, dance and be in each other’s company. I practised a lot of Arabic at her house and with her family, and for that I am grateful.

I was also invited to many other homes, my Arabic teachers family, where I had the best rice and chicken, two Syrian families I met on the Citadel and through my landlady, who were very generous and invited us into their homes and made beautiful meals. I am very grateful for these experiences as many other foreign students didn’t have these opportunities to meet locals, see how real Arab families live, experience delicious food and practise Arabic.

IMG_0391One particular story that stood out to me was when my friends and I were driving along the Jordan Valley Highway up the DeadIMG_0405 Sea and we pulled over to look at the fantastic view, and proceeded to get stuck in the sand and couldn’t drive off. Luckily some Jordanian army soldiers patrolling the road saw our situation and tried to help us. A random stranger also helped us and along with the army blokes, towed us to his house nearby and blew up our tire with air again, since we had to let the air out of the tire to get out of the sand. He then offered us tea and food, we unfortunately had to get on our way but again, the absolute kindness and willingness from strangers to drop everything and inconvenience their own lives to help others was very inspiring. Communicating all of these experiences in my beginner Arabic was also very entertaining to witness I’m sure.

Lots of people have told me they didn’t like Amman, especially east Amman, and I always reply the same thing, which is that they didn’t understand the city for what it is, a place of many stories, often families who’ve gone through a lot of suffering and ended up in Amman, but who emit a chaotic and friendly joy that is hard to find elsewhere.


Posted in Case Study, Monthly Reports