First Month in Jordan


Dead-Sea.jpgDead-Sea.jpg

Amman-1We’ve been living in Jordan for just over one month. I’m not going to sugar-coat anything: It’s been a difficult transition — but not for the reasons I was expecting (working long days, balancing work with school, needing more time off after Kabul). Instead, it’s been a combination of factors — things that I should have been expecting or at least should not have surprised me on our third tour — that have humbled me and reminded me that whether we’re moving the third time or the thirteenth time, some things just take a while.Lest I sound like I’m complaining about living a cushy life that seems (largely based on my own blog, I know) filled with travel to exotic places, I’ll remind you that this blog (or Facebook, or emails and phone calls with friends and family) is the highlights reel. This isn’t real life.Real life is speaking zero Arabic and having difficulty communicating even simple directions to cab drivers so we can leave our house beyond a 15-minute-walk radius. Real life is mostly going from work to home to work to home, and maybe going on a run once or twice a week. Real life is, surprisingly, feeling a little bit lonely and isolated without all your friends (and colleagues) living in your apartment building, eating at your cafeteria and going to your spin class.dead sea, jordan, holiday inn resort dead seaThe Dead Sea.But real life is also getting to see cool places and do cool things, like visit Mount Nebo and Madaba, the Amman Citadel and the Dead Sea. It’s also having the opportunity to see, in person, the work that we’re doing here — to meet beneficiaries in their communities and see our projects in action, along with the great need that still exists. This is not something that was possible in Afghanistan.I was talking to a colleague recently about how I feel like I haven’t really done anything or seen much in Jordan since moving here. She laughed and said, “You’ve only been here, like, two weeks. You have four years. Don’t do everything at once.” I was reminded of my “one thing a day” policy upon moving to our first post, San Salvador. Upon the advice of a seasoned Foreign Service spouse I met in language training (who, incidentally, is now living in San Salvador — hi, Vilma!), I set low to no expectations — for finding work, for being able to communicate, for knowing my way around, etc. I knew it would take time to figure everything out, get settled, make friends and feel truly at home.mafraq, jordan, schools, syrian refugeesSchool for Syrian refugee children in northern Jordan.Arriving to Afghanistan was different, for a multitude of reasons. In some ways, it’s probably the easiest transition to a post. There are no language barriers or problems learning your way around, no struggle to find the kitchen implements and ingredients at the grocery store to cook a meal — no chance to feel lonely or isolated because you are literally around everyone you work with all the time (which for me was difficult as an introvert). You immediately start your job, establish your routine and form your circle of friends. Our UAB and HHE arrived within our first few days at post.Moving to Jordan? I thought, Pfft — I got this. I already had a job, knew my free time would be limited and knew our shipments would take a while to get here. I knew, in my head, that it would take time for our large and empty apartment to feel like home, for me to be able to distinguish one block from another since all the buildings are the same sand-colored cement, for me to meet and befriend the people who will be my “group” for the next four years.Yet, logically knowing those facts to be true and accepting them in actual life are two different things. So I’m modifying my one-thing-a-day policy to one thing a week — whether that’s going out to a new restaurant, visiting a new site on a CLO trip, hanging out with friends/colleagues or just doing something beyond work work and school work. I’m trying to be patient with myself, since I’m often my own worst critic.Another friend and former colleague advised me to have a mantra — something as simple as “I’m new. Things will get easier.” — and repeat it to myself in times of doubt. I’ll take it. What do you do to help navigate times of (professional or personal) transition?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

9 thoughts on “First Month in Jordan

  1. These transition are interesting and funny enough I also felt transitioning to Afghanistan was much easier that transitioning to El Salvador and that’s that I knew Spanish already. What I learn is that it takes 6 months to a year to feel settled in at any post. It is one of the things that I’m not looking forward to when I leave soon and head to your neck of the woods. These are the time to remember to be gentle with yourself and know it takes time – a hard lesson to remember for us do-it-all kind of woman.

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    1. Thanks, Juani! I know everyone says it’s not being in Afghanistan that’s tough — it’s the post-Afghanistan transition that is. None of these feelings should have surprised me and yet they did! I’m excited for you to be in our neighborhood. 🙂

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  2. Such an crazy,cool life you lead but I can totally understand the lonlieness thing and feeling overwhelmed by everything. I really need to catch up on some of your posts!I am sure you will get used to Jordan soon enough and have all kinds of cool stuff to tell us 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Ericka! I just saw you are moving soon too — not to mention your other major life change coming up. :)I know it will just take time and soon enough I’ll feel, if not like a local, at least more at home.

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      1. Soon! I want to give you guys time to settle in, get in your routines. We will have to plan it with both of our school and work schedules. Can’t wait!

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