Day 1- Arrival in Amman
I have arrived. I am in Amman. It has been a long journey…and no this does not only include the 11 hour flight from New York to Amman, but also happens to include the flight delay. Our flight to Amman on Royal Jordanian Airlines was meant to leave JFK Airport at 10:30 p.m. Unfortunately, our plane was not arriving until somewhere after 11:00 p.m. Although this meant that our flight only left JFK at 1:10 a.m. and I believe my head is still swaying a bit from the jet lag, it also gave some of the program participants time to get to know one another.
The students on the program come from all across the country, whether it is from the Midwest, deep south or simply either coast of the US, we are all certainly very different. We all, however, share an interest in journalism and a desire to learn about new cultures.
Here are some of the people I have met so far (more to come):
– A photographer who is in his thirties and has already been told by our hotel staff that he looks like a blond and younger version of King Abdullah, which prompted quite the crowd. He is a very interesting man, who has had experience working in commercial and marketing photography and now does freelance work while still working on his graduate thesis in Texas. Intimidating for sure, especially when he starts talking camera lingo. In addition, he is one of two students to be traveling onto a Cairo and Qatar University Journalism Bootcamp program after this.
– Another grad student from Texas, who happened to buy the exact same cheesy girl novel as I did during our delay (10 points!). Having been born and raised in Saudi Arabia until the age of 10, she is very well versed in the Middle East and studies it in addition to journalism in her graduate program.
– A student from Florida who is a year younger than me is very sweet and happened to be the first person I met. She took a semester off to work in Washington, D.C. and has spoken about her amazing experience working at the Congress Daily, becoming an expert on the inner workings of that world.
– Another graduate student who sat in my row during the flight was studying at UC Berkeley up until recently, when she drove across the country with her mother and will be working as a radio intern in New York City. In addition, she attended the program which the photographer will be on in its previous year.
– While I have met others on the trip briefly, I will share their stories in blog entries to come, as I have not had the pleasure of learning more about them during an extensive airplane delay.
The plane itself was certainly a cultural experience as well. There were many more families and kids than I could ever count on any other international or domestic flight I have been on. Women were walking around the aisles taking care of their children as their husbands sat elsewhere, visiting the rest of the family occasionally. Otherwise, the flight itself was pretty standard for an international flight and I managed to doze off for a bit, which is a rare occurrence for me.
Upon arrival, our group was met by a representative of the Jordanian Information bureau and we traveled our 30 minute journey to our very fancy hotel, where we ate dinner, got our own rooms, and I learned my first classic lesson of journalism – “Be prepared for anything.”
When I found out that internet at the hotel, whether in the rooms or out in the lobby, will cost about 15 dinar a day (the exchange rate makes everything 1.5 as much), I realized that this would pose quite a problem for all of my blogging and journalistic plans.
The plan, for now and at least for this hotel, will be to wake up every day before 7 am to post everything I need in the business centre, where I am hoping the internet is free.
Each night, I will be writing and getting ready to post in the morning. In a world where I have gotten used to constant contact with the outside world, I am baffled by the fact that I am alone, albeit in a very nice hotel room, but still alone. It’s shockingly quiet without the noises of blogging, Twitter, Facebook and Gmail Chat adding a semblance of a crowd to my silent existence. Welcome to the Middle Eastern desert generation web 2.0!