I am learning.
Arabic, sure, I have class 20 hours a week and five willing teachers every time I walk through my front door. But the real knowledge curve, didn't come with an A through F scale. Jordan is teaching me how to adapt. Go with the flow. Instigate conversation. Never turn down an experience. Family should be seen, lazy afternoons treasured, and embarrassment damned. That is living.
Lesson 1: Never assume. On my first night with my host family, I got ready for bed at 11pm, as I assumed I was supposed to do. Luckily, my American roommate Dayanara understood that what I had taken to be "hey go put on pajamas you look tired" gestures were actually "hey we are leaving go look presentable" gestures. It is interesting that at the end of week one, two of my most used Arabic phrases are بدني نتلة (We are going out) and يلا (Let's go). I can never guarantee where we will go, only that we will, and that there will be relatives and friends and misinterpretations and laughter, always laughter. Alone time, here, is never a relief. Introvert or extrovert, people are your greatest source of energy and experience.
Lesson 2: Naps are your friend. The little Carson who tormented her parents, staying awake, watching Veggie Tales till all hours, is no more. I have now fallen asleep on the bus, while writing this blog, and, most recently, whilst folding laundry. قيلولة (Nap) is yet another term to add to my repertoire of essential language learning vocabulary (Also noted: laundry, shower, and please repeat that).
Lesson 3: Lay back, and be present. I have never claimed to be low maintenance. If I did so, my family would laugh. I like engagement, the spotlight. Plans and lists are my forte. I have now survived a week in a culture that could care less for deadlines. All plans are made-an-hour-before-at-best plans. Nothing is ever guaranteed. I have lost count of the times I am wrong. And in a wonderful paradox, this chaotic take on everyday life seems to have relieved my stress. I spend my nights on the dark patios of distant relatives of my adoptive foreign family, hookah smoke and Arabic wafting into the night air, at ease in not knowing. There is something to say for just being present. Sometimes action doesn't require engagement.