First Impressions

Okay, this is one of two blogs going up in rapid succession. This one was written a couple nights ago, so the references to “just” having done stuff are now dated. But that’s the price you pay when studying in an internet poor country.

Tremor: 4.3, Depth: 5.6 miles, Location: 1.2 kilometers from Amman, Jordan.

“Oh yeah! You were the guy who was constantly worried about his ‘first impression’!”

Chicago is a big city. Maybe not Tokyo big, but it’s big. So, it came as no surprise to me that its airport should reflect its size. Unfortunately for me, this meant, to make my connection between the flight from San Francisco and my flight to Amman, I would have to leave security. And the process didn’t get any better from there. Finally, after jumping over the needless hurdles Royal Jordanian put in my way, I finally arrived at the gate. Upon seeing other CIEE students also waiting for the same flight, I walked over to them, and promptly collapsed in a heap in a chair. Throughout the next two hours while we waited for our flight, the number of us grew from 4 to 6 to 10, finally taking up two whole rows. And sleep-deprived delirium has never been my friend.

Don’t let the fact that we were 12 people strong confuse you: We rarely ever made it past idle chatter. This was understandable, as no one was willing to risk alienating people before we had even left American soil. However, the part of my brain that should have known better seemed to be on vacation. I found myself constantly making jokes, some that might have even seemed offensive, and even downright mocking. Usually, this was followed by a small laugh, some awkward silence, and then a crack from me referencing how horrible of a first impression I was giving off. By the time the plane was boarding, I was praying that everyone else wouldn’t remember, and I wasn’t the only one in this position.

I must have fallen asleep at some point, because I awoke to the man next to me alerting me to the fact that the stewardess had arrived to take drink orders. I put my order in, and quickly struck up a conversation with the man next to me. He was a Jordanian man who moved to New York and New Jersey before finally settling in San Diego. His daughters, however, had returned to the University of Jordan to continue their studies. We talked about Jordan and Amman for a good portion of the flight, and when the flight was over, he gave me his number, and told me to call him if I ever needed help in Amman.

“You look familiar… I can’t remember your name though…”

“We were on the same flight, I think…”

“Oh yeah! You were the guy who was constantly worried about his ‘first impression’!”

I had this exchange just the other night that sat next to me in that Chicago airport terminal. While I may have not been coherent, I know now that it was not my first impression I was really worried about. It was Jordan’s first impression on me. The plane ride here, and my encounter with the Jordanian man, had largely assuaged those fears. While I currently have no intention of dialing that number, knowing that he is there gives me comfort. Comfort enough to not care who saw me bring a 5 gallon jug of water to the dinner table. Comfort enough to ask people I’ve known for less than a day to help me make horchata just for shits and giggles. Comfort enough to sit here, just having finished the last glass of our “Mexican rice milk drink thing”, and to not feel apprehension about what strange signals I’m sending to these people, but rather security in knowing that I may be showing them a picture they don’t like, but that it was the true image of myself. While trying to handle a new country can be tough, I have a good feeling about the future, and I hope for the best.


About crazytvfan815

A nearly-20 college student about to spend a year in Amman, Jordan, having never traveled to the Middle East before, and not knowing a word of Arabic.
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