Saturday, July 4, 2009


I went to Jordan for 3 weeks and I thought I'd give everyone a run down about my trip. (By the way if anyone didn't know by now, I'm half Jordanian, my dad was born and raised there). Get ready, its a long one lol.

First some facts about Jordan because sadly the world is under educated:

-The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a Constitutional Monarchy with a representative government ruled by King Abdullah II
-Jordan has one of the highest immigration rates in the world. Jordan's political stability, ethnic and religious toleration, peace with all its neighbors, and equal opportunity for all make Jordan attractive to refugees and political asylum seekers.
-92% of Jordanians are Sunni Muslims and 6% are Christian. Jordan is one of the most liberal Muslim nations in the World with a very progressive government and good human rights record.
-Jordan has almost no natural resources and so it relies on external sources for majority of it's energy and oil needs. It is one of the most water starved countries in the world and is currently exploring ways to expand its limited water supply and use its existing water resources more efficiently.
-Jordanians are the most educated population in the Arab World with a 99% youth literacy rate and a 93% adult literacy rate, the highest in the region.
-Tourism accounts for a large part of Jordan's economy, popular sights include: Petra- an entire ancient city carved into a mountain and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, The Dead Sea- the lowest point on Earth and is also one of the world's saltiest bodies of water, Wadi Rum- a desert full of mountains and hills and known for it's connection with Lawrence of Arabia. Christian religious sites include: Madaba, where The Madaba Map was found, the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land; Mount Nebo, where Moses was said to have gone to get a view of the Promised Land before he died; and The River Jordan, which is the river where Jesus Christ was baptized.

Ok enough of the Jordan lesson and on to my trip! The main reason for the trip in the first place was for my cousin Firas' wedding. He is one of my closest cousins and lives near me but his fiancee lives in Jordan (as well as most of their families). Me, my parents, his mom Basma and sister Fatin all flew to Amman, the capital, for the wedding. We stayed at my Taita's (grandma) apartment, which was a little cramped with all of us but was pretty convenient to visit the rest of the family and sight-see in Amman. Our first weekend there all of us from Taita's house, Firas and my other cousins Yara and Sana went down to Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba. We went with a big group and took a charter bus down. We left early Friday morning and arrived in the ancient city of Petra about 4 hours later. We walked about a 1 1/2 miles until we reached the Siq which is a path between 2 mountains. The Siq was almost another 2 miles until you reach The Treasury, the most famous building in Petra. It was really hot, over 110 degrees so we didn't continue walking past The Treasury, although there is A LOT more to see of the city.

Wearing our Shmah's, traditional Jordanian headwear to protect our heads from the sun.

Approaching The Treasury

We left at 1:30pm for lunch nearby and then continued to Wadi Rum, another hour away. That night we were staying at a campsite in the desert which is designed to give people the experience of how the native Bedouins (nomads) live. The bus couldn't go too far off the main road in the sand so we had to take jeeps the rest of the way. The idea of camping in the desert was really cool, but it wasn't as great as we thought it would be. Mostly because it was soo hot there was no relief from the heat. Nobody in Jordan has A/C except for the hotels so you rely on the fact that all buildings are made of limestone to keep cool and have fans everywhere. Another problem is that there was only one community bathroom with a few sinks and stalls. Not only where there not enough for the number of people at the campsite but when the Muslim women are in there washing up, they don't allow any men to go in, and that's not really fair. They also ran out of water by morning so no flushing of the can only imagine lol.
Side note about water: because water is so scarce in Jordan, people have to have water tanks on their roof's that fill up when water comes once a week. Some people get really big tanks or build a well so they have plenty of water, but some people (like Taita and that campsite) don't have big enough ones for the amount of people that use the water, so running out is a constant threat.

Jeep ride to the campsite

Wadi Rum is famous for it's sunsets, this picture doesn't do it justice. (that's our camp on the right)

Saturday morning we left for Aqaba, the ride was short, about 45 minutes and we were so thankful to be staying in a resort! Right when we got our room keys we raced to take a shower, we were so gross from Petra and Wadi Rum. After our showers we went down to the pool area. It was about 130 degrees, by the time we walked from our rooms down to the pool we were gross again, luckily there were 2 pools and the sea to enjoy. We basically had the whole resort to ourselves, summer is the off season for tourists because its so hot. Lucky us...haha. We didn't really hang out on the beach for 2 reasons: 1) we were so over sand from Wadi Rum 2) the entrance to the water was really rocky. We did explore a little and we found trampolines that you could jump on, for free!

Enjoying the Infinity pool at the resort


That week back in Amman my parents and I started what would end up being a very long process to get our Jordanian citizenship and passports. Since my dad was born in Jordan he is still is a Jordanian citizen but he can give my mom and I citizenship too. Things didn't end up going as planned; I thought Italy is inefficient, man Jordan takes the cake. It took over 8 hours and 3 separate trips to fill out all the forms and standing in different lines but my dad and I got our Jordanian ID's and I got my citizenship (my dad just had to get his ID renewed)! My mom could have gotten hers but she would have had to go through an immigration hearing since she isn't of Jordanian blood and we agreed it wasn't worth it. My dad and I getting our passports would have required more forms and lines and since we can get them in the U.S. we didn't do it. It's actually easier for us to travel on our U.S. passports so we may not get them at all, we'll see. The rest of the week was consumed by wedding preparations and pre-wedding parties.

Our last week there we went to the Dead Sea which is only about 30 min from Amman. We had a very relaxing 2 days there just floating around in the sea and swimming in the hotel pool.

The Dead Sea


Our last few days were spent with the family and buying souvenirs. We had a great trip but we were definitely ready to return to bay area weather!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I'm DONE!!!

I am officially done with college! ahh that is so scary yet exciting at the same time. I finished up my finals on Wednesday and have been living up my last days in Rome, doing some repeat sightseeing and spending time with friends. I am getting really sad to leave, the semester went by so fast. Today i finished packing up all my stuff and cleaning the apartment. We have to move out tomorrow morning and Christina, Hilary and I are going to Mykonos for a week. Greece will be awesome, we've been watching Mamma Mia over and over to get ourselves pumped lol. Leaving is definitely bittersweet, I miss everyone at home but I'm not done with Rome. It's also hard to cope with the realization that I'm not living in San Diego part time anymore and so I'm still going to be missing out on all the fun there. I am ready to settle down a little though, I'm sick of moving so often. I've caught the travel bug however, there is so much of the world left for me to see. After the Greece trip, I will have gone to 11 countries in the 4 months I was studying abroad! Then it's Jordan and possibly Egypt in summer then who knows what next! My friends here and I have already started planning when we're going to visit each other, I'm happy they all live/go to school in different parts of the U.S. that I haven't been: Colorado, Texas, Maryland, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey. This semester has motivated me to go out and do new things and see as much as possible. Life's too short to sit around, there are too many adventures to experience!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Can you say STRESSED??

These last 2 weeks have been really hectic with school but a really great time in Rome. Last week I had a presentation to give and this week I have 5 essays due and a final! I really wish some of my teachers would have spread the work out more (like one class alone has 2 essays and the final the same day) but then I would have had to have done more work during the weekends and I wouldn't have been able to travel as much so I guess killing myself with work now is worth it. Here's the run down on last weeks Rome activities:

Wednesday night there was a free concert in Piazza del Pololo put on by National Geographic for Earth day. There were a couple Italian bands that played, and I actually liked one of them, called Subsonica. Basically The Killers in Italian. Headlining the show was Ben Harper! I think every American in Rome went to the concert, even if they arn't Ben Harper fans just because he's American haha. He played all his new music which I don't know, but it was still a really cool concert.

Saturday was a gorgeous day in Rome so a bunch of us went to Parc Pamphili near our house and had a picnic. I love this park because its really big and open and this is the only place you see Italian's being "normal" compared to American standards. They play games and exercise and there are kids playing everywhere. We brought food, lots of wine and mad libs to entertain ourselves. It was the perfect day, so relaxing and awesome to just enjoy the weather and take a break from school work.

The rest of the week has been work work work! Thankfully I only have one essay left to write, due tomorrow (or next week if I choose but I just want to get it done!) I'd love to say it's my last essay left ever, but one of my finals is a take home essay so I'll be working on that this weekend. Luckily I'll have only 3 actual exams to study for, so for once I'm not that worried about finals.

This Friday Christina and I are going back to Florence to visit my aunt and uncle so that will be a nice break. There are still a few sights we didn't see back in January, most importantly David!! Unfortunately we can only stay for the day, we're not even sure anymore if we can stay the night because of studying, but we'll see how it goes. I can't believe next week is my last full week in Rome, I still have so much to do!!!

Me, Christina and our roomie Hilary leave for Greece May 10th, I'm so excited!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Amalfi Coast

Last weekend me, Christina, Jessie and Lauren went to the Amalfi Coast with bus2alps. The tour was with all Rome study abroad students, most from JCU. We met up at the train station and took a bus down to Sorrento. We stayed in Sorrento at 7 Hostel- it was gorgeous. This hostel was basically a hotel except we stayed in 10 person rooms and each floor shared bathrooms, it felt like I was living in the dorms again. Friday we went to the island of Capri. It was a long hike from the marina to the town but we saw some awesome views.

We split off for lunch and wandered the town. The weather was cool and cloudy in the morning and in town so that was a bummer but later we went back down to the marina and it got sunnier. We just relaxed on the beach for the rest of the afternoon. That night we all went out to dinner and then to a karaoke bar, which was more a big singing party then karaoke.

Saturday we went to the small town of Positano, which is in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. Positano was my favorite place of the weekend, it's smaller and less touristy and has cute little boutiques. Capri was cute too but it has more designer stores, which are boring to go in when you can't afford any of it. The weather was much nice Saturday so we could lay out in our bathing suits and tan. I got handmade sandals there; Capri is famous for them but they are wayy overpriced there.

Unfortunately our tour didn't arrange our transportation back since we didn't have evening plans they let us leave whenever. Well the ferry's weren't running to Sorrento for some reason that day so everyone had to take the bus. But of course the buses didn't show up for some reason so there were like 80 tourists waiting in the road. We ended up hiring a private driver with a Mercedes to take us back, it was 12 euros each which sucked but it was the most entertaining ride ever. Our driver was hilarious and he wanted to teach me to drive stick in his Mercedes! I declined though because 1) I had been drinking most of the afternoon and 2)I haven't driven in 3 months so I would probably hit something haha. That night the hostel had Mexican BBQ and a band playing in the bar so we kicked it there all night.

Sunday we checked out of our hostel and went to Pompeii. It was so cool to see how much they uncovered. It's way bigger than I imagined.

The weather was touch and go all day, cool and rainy. Luckily it didn't rain while we were on the tour so we all had a nice time. We left around 4:30 for Rome and got home around 8:30. It was an awesome weekend, the weather could have been a little better but I got to relax by the beach so I was happy!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Over Easter weekend Me, Lauren, Jessie, Molly and her friend Cassie went to Ireland! We stayed in Dublin for 5 nights and also went on 2 day trips to nearby smaller towns. Friday we went on a free tour of Dublin and saw most of the main areas including Temple Bar, Dublin Castle, Trinity College, St. Patricks Cathedral and St. Stephan's Green. The rest of the day we relaxed in the park and wandered down Grafton St. the main shopping area.

St. Stephan's Green

Saturday we went to the farmers market, explored Temple Bar area more and did some shopping. That night we were really excited to go out because it was Good Friday the day before and no alcohol was sold the whole day, meaning no bars were open. On Sunday Lauren, Jessie and I took the DART (yes just like BART aka a metro) to Dun Laoghaire, a small port town. It was a gorgeous day, sunny but cool and we walked along the pier. We stopped at People's Park where they had a farmer's market for lunch and then continued walking along the water. We ended up walking through 2 more towns, Sandycove and Dalkey. We did some rock climbing and relaxed on the huge rocks for a while, enjoying the sun and the amazing view.

Monday was the first day we had any rain, it was bound to happen being in Ireland lol. We went on the Wild Wicklow Tour that took us through the Wicklow mountains to Glendalough and past other small towns and countryside. We unfortunately couldn't see the extent of the mountains and the views because it was so foggy but we got to walk to the river in Glendalough and saw better views there.

We left Dublin Tuesday evening, it was a great trip but unfortunately the massive amounts of school work we've all been assigned were on our minds most of the trip. The end of the semester is coming fast, less than a month left and professors have been assigning a lot of essays. I've got a lot of work to do but I have to find the time to soak up as much of Rome as possible. I'm leaving tonight for the Amalfi Coast for the weekend, Sorrento, Capri, Positano and Pompeii! It's my last weekend trip of the semester, I'm glad I'll be staying put in Rome for the last few weeks.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Me and Jessie went to Paris for the weekend and we had a blast! We stayed with her friend Kerry from school who is studying abroad there. We were so lucky to have awesome weather the whole weekend, it made me love Paris even more!. We got there Friday and did most of the touristy things, but first we ate at Breakfast in America and I basically had a Denny's grad slam, it was delicious! We walked along the Seine, went to Notre Dame, Jardin des Tuileries and sat by one of the giant ponds, walked down the Champs Elyses to the Arc de Triumph and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That night we went to Fajitas for dinner, yay for Mexican!!! Saturday we went to Disneyland Paris!

It's almost the same as the real Disneyland, except some of the rides are a little different. I was really mad that the Indiana Jones ride is completely different, no fun adventure, just a roller coaster. Overall it was really fun and awesome to basically be in America-land, except everything was also in French. Sunday we went to the Louvre because it was free, which meant there was a long line and it was packed. We just saw the Mona Lisa and another few key pieces before leaving to enjoy the weather! Later that evening we went to the Eiffel Tower! We went to the second landing (it's cheaper than going to the third and you can actually see the view better) and took gorgeous sunset pictures.

By the time we came down, the lights turned on which was another beautiful sight.

For dinner we went to fondue! There is a set menu so it's really easy and it comes with wine, but you have to drink it out of a baby bottle! It was so much fun, it's a tiny place, with only 2 long tables, you can probably fit maybe 40 people total. The people who sit on the booth along the wall have to climb over the table! It was awesome. Monday we wandered around a little and I had the best crepe ever, nutella and banana. Mmmmm. Our flight left that evening, of course it was delayed an hour, stupid budget airlines. I had a fabulous weekend in Paris, it took all my energy to not do some serious shopping though!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Things I miss about America

1. Target- Italy doesn't believe in one stop shopping, and it's just fun to waste time wandering around the store.
2. Driving- It's just so much easier to get things done quickly, and I miss my little car (well it would be considered big compared to Italy's abundance of smart cars lol)
3. Foreign cuisine- Italy doesn't have the most diverse selection of food, I just want some Mexican food!!!!!!!!!
4. Being able to wear flip flops without getting crazy looks- Italians must have feet phobias because they do not like to see people in sandals.
5. Customer service- In general Italian's don't care for Americans, which I can understand because we expect them to speak to us in English and that's not fair. When they come to the U.S. they don't expect us to speak Italian! But they could be a little nicer when we struggle to speak their language. Luckily in Trastevere most are more friendly to us because they are used to all the students (and like our money haha)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm still in love with Italy's 4-P's of food- Pizza, Pasta, Panini and Parmesan but sometimes you just crave things and unfortunately it's very difficult to get it here. I guess that's half the fun of being abroad, being forced to try living life differently and finding new loves. I'm already foreseeing my withdrawls from Italian chocolate and the cheese selection at Safeway is just not going to cut it!

On a happier note, spring as sprung in Rome. We have been enjoying temperatures in the 60's, which feels much warmer here than at home, probably because Rome isn't on the water. Even when it rains (which is often here in spring) it's still pretty warm; as long as I don't have to wear my coat anymore I'm happy!

On my walk to school