I am nineteen years old and sixteen of those years have been spent in a very small English city. Three months ago I moved to a new city: bigger, noisier, scarier – liberating and restricting all at once. This city is Amman, Jordan, and I’m living here as an Arabic-language student.
When I left, a few people asked me to write a blog so that they could keep track of my life here. I refused. This was firstly, and most importantly, because of my awareness that I’m just another Brit travelling to the Middle East, and I worried that anything I wrote would sound either like the pretentious memoirs of a paternalistic, eighteenth-century Orientalist who thinks that they are “discovering” a new civilisation, or like the ramblings of a teenager on their first big adventure, collecting shisha pipes and crying about how life-changing this experience has been.
The second reason for my refusal was that I didn’t really feel that I had anything important enough to say to justify posting online. Anyone who knows me will be aware that I keep a diary, and I felt that my words were better suited to my notebook than to wordpress.com.
I still feel these reservations, but stronger than this is a sense that, even in the short time since I arrived here, I have actually seen and experienced some things which should be shared and publicised, both for my own sake and for the sake of friends who have asked me to share stories on their behalf. So in this vein: happy reading!