The GoGlobal Blog

Month: June 2011

The Bottom Line about Female Dress in Jordan

The Bottom Line about Female Dress in Jordan

True: in parts of the city, it’s not uncommon to see Jordanian women in miniskirts, tank tops, or even summer dresses.

But if you’re not Jordanian, leave the stilettos at home.

There’s a very understood familial culture in Jordan. It’s a tribal country* that

The Souk Jara street festival happens every Friday, which is the weekend in Jordan.

operates with a very protective network of communities. And just because you have a few Jordanian friends doesn’t make you a member.

The reason Jordanian women can wear mini-skirts is because men usually refrain from cat-calling or touching them for fear of repercussions from the family. It doesn’t take long to figure out who anyone is here. If a girl doesn’t know the man who whistled at her in Duwar Abdoun, chances are her uncle has done business with his grandfather–and if grandaddy is too old to do something about it, one of her brothers, or her father, will.

“Done away with,” is how one of my instructors described it.

Bottom line: tribal sensitivity/assimilation does NOT = tribal membership. So ladies: No need to look homely, but cover your shoulders and knees.

*Note on tribes: they’re pretty huge. Having 15 siblings is not uncommon here. (My one brother greatly confuses most people. It’s almost anxiety producing for them.) Multiply that by generations upon generations and you’ve got a familial support network of, oh, a few hundred living relatives?

1st World Internet

1st World Internet

I’ve taken five showers in my lifetime that I can describe as life altering. Two of which I legally can’t speak about. I’ve been in Rome for 3 days, and I just now feel like I have 75% of the sand out of my clothing/hair/ cell phone? Said cell phone is no longer working BTW. I’m still trying to get life in order here now that I have access to the internets. Luckily I also brought a little friend back from Africa in the form of bacteria. I’m going to see a Doctor in the morning to finally rid myself of we affectionately referred to as “Bourgibas Revenge”. Apparently my Mom is close with the Cardinal who lives across the street from her who is referring me to a good doctor from Vatican City(Cause thats normal). More info on Tunisia and Rome later, as I need to get some rest.

Buona Notta

Spare Time! Finally!

Spare Time! Finally!

You wouldn’t think that finding the time to blog over a four day period would be that difficult, but when those days are your first four in China it starts to make sense.  In fact, I can’t quite believe four days have passed since my 20 hour plane ride finally came to an end.  The days since have been filled with seemingly endless visits to all of the most memorable Beijing sites (think Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City) , extensive lectures by TBC professors, whirlwind tours of the campus and jetlag induced bouts of sleep.  I’m not quite sure what I thought China would be like before I arrived, other than the usual assumptions of pervasive construction (even more than I imagined) and terrible air pollution (worse than I imagined).  However, the time I have spent here so far has shown me a diverse, bustling city that is seemingly always on the move, yet always stationary.  My experiences  are so defined by these dual notions that it is hard to wrap my mind around them.  Part of the day I spend visiting ancient monuments that have stood for hundreds of years without change and the other part I’m surrounded by an ever changing environment that seems unabashedly capitalist, more so than even the U.S.

the fatal attraction of shopping

the fatal attraction of shopping

Ugh.  No picture this time, seeing as i forgot to bring my camera.  but last night we went to yashao clothing market….otherwise known as the fake mall.

classy, huh?  what makes it even classier is all the scolding that you get when you bargain with them.  i must have heard “you’re killing me” at least a dozen times.  my roommate was amazing at it, though.  i think she might have been very much more successful at it than i was.  i wish i was as good as grandma was at bargaining.

perhaps part of it is that i have a little trouble knowing the value of rmb….while i know the value of ringit.  i wonder if i’d be better bargaining in malaysia than here….

but my chinese is getting better!  i had a really funny conversation with the taxi driver that took us to the market.  it was mentally taxing….but we had a reasonably smooth conversation.  he was really really nice…something that i didn’t expect from taxi drivers in general, since last time i tried to get a taxi, they tried to rip me off…..

but this guy, and apparently lots of other people, keep asking if i’m 中国人, which throws me off.  because to me that means “are you chinese?” and to them that means “are you from china?”  so i’ve said yes a few times and had to catch myself, saying quickly, “不不不不不, 我是美国人”

i really don’t think my chinese passes as good enough to be from china, considering all the stuff i can’t say.  or perhaps they just think i’m mentally challenged….which may be slightly true in a sense, but not true in the way most people think about it.  and i’ve started to garble my chinese…and it actually seems to aid in my audience’s comprehension rather than when i try and speak crisply.  i haven’t decided if that’s disturbing or not…it probably merits more investigation.

buuuuuuuuuut…getting back to the subject, bargaining in china is almost a dangerous business.  i’ve been hit twice by trying to save a fellow student from the grasp of an over-eager salesman in tian’anmen square, been scolded enough to make snape want to cry, and almost tricked into buying something that i really really didn’t want.  and, supposedly i’m killing people when i bargain.

it’s a bit ridiculous that they say that i’m not making them a serious offer, when i really am.  if i wasn’t serious, i wouldn’t be making an offer…and you wouldn’t give me it for that price if you weren’t actually making money off of it.  it’s silly how many times they say that they’ll give it to me for a better price and that they’re not making any profit from it…when we learned in class how cheap labor is in china and how little money each item costs.

the best thing is when they try and tell you that it’s real.  but i figure it’d be really rude to laugh right in their face…

so in the end, i was convinced to part with about 450 rmb.  which, all in all, really isn’t too bad for all that i got, but is probably more than i could have paid for it.  i guess it’s a learning process.  but, rule number one of bargaining: never go lower than you’ve said before, because it makes the shop owners very very angry with you.

Navigating Queen Alia Airport (& SIT Protocol)

Navigating Queen Alia Airport (& SIT Protocol)

Getting into Jordan is pretty straightforward. Everyone in the airport (and most people here, it seems) speak English.

That said, using your (my) broken Arabic at the visa counter is more of a timesuck

A Jordanian Visa costs 20 Jordanian Dinar (JD), or $28.21 USD

than anything.

Conveniently for students like me who are  jumping into a program that operates on a you-know-as-you-go philosophy, telling immigration officers you have no clue where in the country you’re going (“La arif, sayyid…”) is all the info they need to stamp your passport anyways!

What’s funny about Queen Alia airport–which is really not difficult to navigate once you get over the initial existential shock of touching down in a foreign country–are the differences in some security values.

Downstairs at the baggage claim, kids are jumping on and over the conveyer belt to check tags and find bags for their parents. If you happen to be particularly pale, red-haired, and American, men in blue Queen Alia jumpsuits rush to give you carts and ask if you are from “Chicago? Chicago?” While a man in a dark blue suit finds your bag in the back and offers to show you Amman (Side Note: You probably don’t want this man to show you Amman).

If it’s too heavy, they may forego the secondary baggage scan before you’re free to graze in the palm trees outside.

The drive from Queen Alia Airport to Amman is about 30-40 minutes.

Now, the upside of participating in a youknowasyougo program is that it comes complete with who could be a member of Jordanian intelligence waiting for you outside in a black suit, sunglasses, cigarettes in one hand and an “SIT” sign in the other.

Turns out his name is Ahmed. He seems to “take care of business” for SIT, though his official position is program coordinator/PR manager. Ahmed will have his own post later in the program.

Ma’ salaam for now!

Why Royal Jordanian puts American Airlines to Shame

Why Royal Jordanian puts American Airlines to Shame

[13 hours on the Airbus]

1. They have touch-screens in every seat.

The average Airbus holds around 300 people per flight.

These come with games, on demand movies, an interactive map of where your plain is/how fast it’s going/ETA, streaming radio, Arabic music, American music, etc.

2. The flight attendants look like models. What happened to the good old days where female flight attendants wore pressed skirts, jackets, hats, and were also ridiculously good looking? They all moved to Jordan and renewed their geneaologies. I thought of it as proper, charming, and comfortable, but feel free to read that as misogynistic, oppressive, and anti-modern. Someone has to.

3. No BS. Everyone is super nice unless you’re being disobedient. Call it rude, call it time-efficient: There’s no, “ma’am, could you please put that carry-on back in the overhead bins? We’re not allowing people to get up just yet” – only, “No./La.” and they put it back for you.

4. The people who fly Royal Jordanian are much more pleasant. By the looks of him, I sat next to the Israeli Uncle Jessie. He spent about 40% of the time praying (flight anxiety, I assume), often bumping his head into the touch screen monitor in the back of the seat and turning it on and off. Instead of sweating, making anxious conversation, and/or trying to hold my hand to soothe his flying fear, he softly hummed the Qur’an to himself. We can learn from this.

5. They take you away from the watery torture of the Midwest Spring/Summer and bring you here:

Queen Alia Airport was built in 1983 after the death of King Hussein's 3rd Wife, Queen Alia.

And that was just economy class.

Previously aired in the last post…

Previously aired in the last post…

Attempting to beat the picture system.  let’s have a go at it, shall we?

This morning, we had to take care of our own breakfast, and when i went into the school cafe to pick up a pastry, i saw this bao that looked like it was filled with pandan paste.  Highly suspicious that pandan had not made it to china, i asked the cafe lady, and she said it was some kind of bean.  wang dou?  i dunno exactly…as i was inquiring, someone else in the cafe said, without looking, mind you, that it was red bean.

but it was green….and then we both agreed we had no idea what it was.  i ate it anyways.

We then had a guest lecturer give us a brief overview of modern chinese history, which was fascinating and…disturbing.  Disturbing only in the sense that some of the events elicited either an angry emotional response or an extremely sad emotional response.  But i suppose that just means that i still have a heart…even though i’ve sworn several times that it doesn’t exist.  After the hour and a half lecture, we took a bus to the center of beijing to visit tian’anmen square and the forbidden city.

for 4.5 hours.  it was hot.  and smoggy.  but so cool.  Beijing is an interesting mix of new and modern buildings and ancient structures left from the qing dynasty.  It’s also teeming with differnt types of tourists from all different nations. I’m attempting to, again, attach media, but for some reason i can’t attack anything larger than 1 mb….which is a rather small size for a file.  I dunno how the first one loaded…’cause it’s definintely bigger than 1 mb.  Perhaps only one photo per post.  So i’ve split up the posts to see if i can show you all a picture of the forbidden city.

LOOK AT MAO'S 难看 face!!!!! apparently he fired his barber and had him beheaded...

apparently, 1 mb is still a restriction.  i don’t understand at all.  how do you make a picture file smaller?  apologies for the lack of pictures, but i’ll figure something out soon.  and i’ve made it to my goal of staying awake until nine before i let myself to to sleep.  tomorrow we have another day filled with exploring and such.  yay for spending lots of time in the sun!  and smog.  it’s all one happy experience!

more pictures!

for the fallen soldiers

There were two lions outside of the inner court, but it seems like my internet is once again being a butt and not letting me upload the other daddy lion….let’s see…..

it looks she's squishing the kid...

hm….nope, no luck.  perhaps a different time i’ll try and share the pictures of beijing from the top of the manmade hill on the north side of the forbidden city.  it’s there to block all the wind coming from siberia/russia area.  feng shui stuff.  this morning (it is now the morning of the 14th) we’re going to the science museum and the olympic park.

maybe i can snag something/touch something that michael phelps did too…..*drools*

地二天–我的讲话不当多好

地二天–我的讲话不当多好

so…the flight took a long time.  we were supposed to land in beijing at about 3pm, but due to thunderstorms, we ended up getting diverted to a smaller city west of beijing, taiyuan.  Most of us on the plane didn’t even realize we had been diverted until the captain decided to announce as we hit the ground, “Hello ladies and gentlemen, as you may have noticed, we are not in beijing…”

we can go to thousands of airports...but not yours

cue the collective gasp of surprise.

expression of disgust at the delay

We were only supposed to be in taiyuan for perhaps an hour, but we ended up waiting about four/five hours before we could refuel and get clearance to go to beijing, which took about another hour.   My thirteen hour flight turned into about a 20 hour flight, but in the end, i arrived, so i guess that’s really all that matters.  The people on the plane were really nice for the most part, but i guess everyone kind of bands together when they’re stuck without any option of aborting a shared enclosed space.  and when we have a common complaint.

I got in to UIBE, where the beijing center is located, at around 11:30, and got into my room at about 12 midnight.  I had an unfortunate experience of having to call my room to wake up my roommate so i could get in….i felt so bad!  but she was really nice, and we’re really getting along swimmingly.  right now we’re sitting in a cafe across from the western gate of our school that has internet.  i tried getting internet at school…but was thwarted, sadly.

Our ChinaGreen group has 9 people in it, and even though i was worried at first about the small size, it has served to actually allow for more interaction as opposed to irritation.  but i’m sure we’ll all get on each others’ nerves at some point in time…

The first day of orientation was good–we had some info sessions from the program director and such, and then we had some host students kind of help us get around and get situated…buy simcards, random groceries…stuff like that.  The names of the students were miracle and gina.  i really don’t understand how chinese people choose english names, but it always serves to be entertaining.  I’m sure they think the same thing of those of us who choose chinese names.  But, the best part of yesterday…?  definitely the nap.  i was going to check out the gym, but…i woke up later than i had planned, and then just threw out all plans of running and slept some more before our dinner appointment, which was at 6:30pm.

There was a culture show, and i’d love to attach a movie/video of the show, but the connection i’m on now does not really permit it.  I promise to put one up when i’m at better location for it.  As it is, getting pictures uploaded is proving to be a little difficult.

We went out to a bar to get a drink to beat jetlag at night, and then came home and passed out from exhaustion.  yay for zzzzzz’s!

This morning, we had to take care of our own breakfast, and when i went into the school cafe to pick up a pastry, i saw this bao that looked like it was filled with pandan paste.  Highly suspicious that pandan had not made it to china, i asked the cafe lady, and she said it was some kind of bean.  wang dou?  i dunno exactly…as i was inquiring, someone else in the cafe said, without looking, mind you, that it was red bean.

but it was green….and then we both agreed we had no idea what it was.  i ate it anyways.

We then had a guest lecturer give us a brief overview of modern chinese history, which was fascinating and…disturbing.  Disturbing only in the sense that some of the events elicited either an angry emotional response or an extremely sad emotional response.  But i suppose that just means that i still have a heart…even though i’ve sworn several times that it doesn’t exist.  After the hour and a half lecture, we took a bus to the center of beijing to visit tian’anmen square and the forbidden city.

for 4.5 hours.  it was hot.  and smoggy.  but so cool.  Beijing is an interesting mix of new and modern buildings and ancient structures left from the qing dynasty.  It’s also teeming with differnt types of tourists from all different nations. I’m attempting to, again, attach media, but for some reason i can’t attack anything larger than 1 mb….which is a rather small size for a file.  I dunno how the first one loaded…’cause it’s definintely bigger than 1 mb.  Perhaps only one photo per post.

Rain, rain, go away!

Rain, rain, go away!

¡Hola a todos! ¿Qué tal?

So, I have officially made it through my first two days of class at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. And as I sit here typing this, I look out my window and see a rainbow over the city. Yep, that’s right. A rainbow. That means rain. And it has been raining on and off for the past few days. Everyone has always said how little it rains in Madrid, but when I come, it pours. Go figure. 🙂

Bueno. At last post I was getting ready to start orientation, the final start. It was actually the shortest orientation I have been through to date. Only 24 hours. On 2 June, I checked into the orientation hotel in the morning, then because no one was there yet and the rooms were not ready, I headed out to get a few items, such as picking up my tickets for a Real Madrid-Bayern München Fútbal/Fußball/Calcio/Soccer game. It took a year, but at last I was going to go to a Bayern München Game! I know, I am in Spain- I should cheer for the home team, but alas for Spain, I could not bring myself to. Stern des Südens!!! But in the end, Real Madrid would have the last laugh as they won. Oh well. Anyway, around 12.00 most of the other students started arriving and checking in. Also, the rooms were available. Thus, I checked in, received my housing information, my orientation packet, and then had free time until around 19.30 when any students who wanted could go on a walking tour of the neighborhood.
Since there was plenty of time, a few of the other students and I, whom I met in the lobby, when to get lunch and walk around. Then we returned to the hotel and went on the walking tour, followed by dinner as a whole group  of USAC Madrid Summer 2011 in the Hotel Restaurant. It was a bit funny for me, as all the other students were jet lagged and tired, and I was  just dandy. Ah the joy of being used to this time zone. jaja
The next day, Friday, we had orientation, starting nice and early at 7.00 with breakfast, y despues (see I can write a bit of Spanish!) we were off the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos to get our library cards, see the campus, take the language exam, and have a general orientation. Seeing the campus was nice, but it was shocking to me that it is an actual campus. I was expecting more like Freiburg where there is a “campus” but it is not as a campus like in the US. The city just flows into campus in Freiburg-here it is more separate like most are in the US. But it is nice and I cannot wait to just do homework outside! Then it was back to the hotel to get our bags and make our way to our new homes.

So I live only 20 minutes away from Uni, which is really nice. Most people live 30-40 minutes away (some days I can even make it in 10!). I take the bus as it is the easiest way and quickest. I have my own room, which is wonderful, and I share a living room, kitchen, and bathroom with two Spaniards. I have been here about a week and so for it has been great. The language was a bit tricky at first, but as my Spanish slowly improves, it is becoming easier to communicate, but for the most part, we can. There are a few words here and there that are lost in translation, or that I simply don’t know in Spanish and they don’t know in English, so then it is dictionary time! jaja

Sunday was a great day: finally the Bayern München game. Our seats were great-we were able to see the whole game, and when it started to rain (rain? Madrid? Yep… figures, no?) we were sheltered. Then it was back home to sleep as Uni started Monday. So I have Spanish class Monday-Friday from 9.00-11.35. Somehow, and I am not sure how, I placed into a higher level than I was going to take… So far, we have been reviewing a lot, which is nice as after Italian and German my Spanish… well I can read it, but not speak it so well. But it is getting better. It is just hard to believe that I have now had a week of class! Midterm next week on Friday means there will be a lot of studying. But what is nice is that there are only 2 other students in my class, so we can go more in depth for topics we are unsure of, or might need more practice with.

After class I have been getting lunch, doing homework, and relaxing a bit, getting used to Madrid. And, of course, enjoying my last week off from training. In the evenings I hang out with friends in the various parts of Madrid and am enjoying all the city has to offer! Vale!

So stay tuned for the next post!

Monument in Park Retiro, Madrid

Bayern München vs. Real Madrid
Tips On Beating the Heat!

Tips On Beating the Heat!

Roman summers are hot! Here is a quick guide on a few ways for you to keep your cool:

1. Drink water. Lots of it. This should be obvious, but most of us are not in the habit of carrying a water bottle or two around. Save your bottles. Rome has several fountains where one can refill one’s water containers. There is a machine near the vending machines that also gives free water. Take advantage of it. Bonus point: If you have a metallic water bottle, it will keep your water cool as a cucumber.

2. Gelato is delicious. It is, however, still ice cream, so if you are watching calories, beware. There are a variety of flavors to choose from. The most interesting one I have found recently is affectionately dubbed “Puffa” (“Smurf”), possibly in honor of the live-action movie coming out. Oh, and it’s blue, too.

Yes, it really is that blue.

3. A granita chills you to the bone. Gelato is nice, but even with the hot sun beating down on you, a granita will make your whole body feel cold. Granita are essentially Italian slushies, so if you miss things like ICEEs, give a granita a try. They usually come in 2-4 flavors. Look for the slushie machines hiding in gelato shops.

Hope these tips help all new Rome applicants! Ciao!