School is moving along quickly. After two days of learning the alphabet, we were somehow expected to be able to read a page of text, and after a week, to be able to to recite a page from memory. I was able to, eventually, but it took a few minutes and lots of correcting. Tonight, I have to memorize the numbers, days of the week, how to conjugate for the past tense, and the possessives. Which is why I finally decided to post.
Although the school as a whole is at least half devout Muslims, the rest are Americans, and most are in college. I ended up in a class with two American girls who are taking a year off before college, two Japanese women whose husbands are here for the Iraqi reconstruction effort (I wished them good luck), and a Spanish woman. It's too bad, I think, that there aren't any Muslims (aside from the teachers) in my class, because I think I could have learned a lot from them.
It's been Ramadan since I arrived, which means that I've gotten used to the absurd schedule, and it's going to be weird when it goes back to “normal.” The work day starts later, and ends at 2 or 3, when everyone goes home (and the traffic is a mess), where they sleep or cook until the sun goes down and it's time to eat. Shops are intermittently open during the day, and all restaurants are closed by law, but everything opens up after people have eaten, and stays open until 12 or 1 or so. And aside from the handful of places (like large hotels) with a tourist license, it's illegal to sell alcohol, so all the bars are closed.
Aside from that, I really can't say enough about how normal this city is. West Amman, which contains the middle class suburbs is generally pretty nice, with a few newer and swanky neighborhoods scattered around. Like everywhere else there are mall, some of which are a hodgepodge collection of cheap shops and supermarkets, others are filled with upscale boutiques and international brands, and are priced accordingly. I even found the local equivalent of a Wal-Mart, which was just like home, except for the Arabic signs and only the occasional group dressed in traditional white headdress and thob. Most people in the upper class areas, and especially the younger generations, are westernized, wearing normal clothes, and speak English, even amongst themselves.