Coming up on a year in Jordan, I’m starting to finally feel more positive about being here. I didn’t experience the typical culture shock pattern of honeymoon period, slump, and ultimate settling in – I skipped the honeymoon and spent a large part of our first several months in some kind of slump. First it was a disappointed slump, that I didn’t immediately fall in love with Amman the way I’ve experienced with other cities. It gradually morphed into a slump of Constant Feminist Outrage as I fixated on all the ways that I was constrained from just being me, the person, instead of being singled out as a woman.
Since we’ve been back from Tanzania, though, I’ve finally hit that uptick of settling in that I given up on. I’m feeling pretty content to be in Jordan these days – I’ve got some good friends, a killer backyard, and a challenging and fascinating job. I’m typing this with peach juice running down my chin and I’ve learned where to find top-shelf gin (Israel).
I’m just not a Middle East person, I don’t think. This distressed me a bit at first – I’ve always found something about other countries and cultures to embrace, and I’ve spent so many years daydreaming about how wonderful and rewarding my life abroad would be, so I was panicked at the thought that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this lifestyle after all. But I’ve realized that it’s okay to not love a place. In fact, it’s rather satisfying to find myself settling in and finding things to keep me happy despite the knowledge that this isn’t the right part of the world for me.